Studies show x-ray was silver lining last year

February 2, 1994

Two studies released late last year of medical equipment purchasingconfirm what just about any medical imaging vendor could tellyou first hand: 1993 was a slow year. The Chicago-based LINC Group's fifth annual hospital capitalsurvey of hospital

Two studies released late last year of medical equipment purchasingconfirm what just about any medical imaging vendor could tellyou first hand: 1993 was a slow year.

The Chicago-based LINC Group's fifth annual hospital capitalsurvey of hospital executives found "a downturn in the health-careindustry of astonishing proportions." Anxiety over the onsetof health-care reform has prompted hospitals to make sweepingcutbacks and changes, and as a result, hospitals have devotedless money to purchasing new medical equipment.

The number of survey respondents who predicted an increasein equipment spending at their institution declined to 32% in1993. This number is down by half over the past two years, accordingto the survey: 60% predicted higher equipment spending in 1992and 72% predicted more spending in 1991.

Some 75% of executives surveyed predicted that health-carereform would reduce their access to capital, with 19% seeing noeffect and 7% predicting an improvement. In 1993 just 11% feltthat access to capital was improving, compared to 28% a year ago.

The LINC Group also asked executives to list their equipmentacquisition and funding plans for the year, and of medical imagingmodalities, x-ray came out on top with 39% of executives predictingx-ray purchases. Ultrasound came in second at 28%, with CT at19% and nuclear medicine at 18%. Only 13% of respondents wereplanning MRI purchases, according to the survey.

The LINC Group survey represented 10% of the nation's hospitals,with 656 executives responding, according to the firm.

Another survey, conducted by Comdisco of Rosemont, IL, alsofound equipment acquisitions slow in 1993. Exceptions were cardiaccatheterization systems and angiography suites, both of whichshowed increased activity.

The Comdisco study surveyed the annual age of each modality'sinstalled base to determine purchasing activity. Of all medicalimaging modalities, MRI showed the least growth, with the averageage of MRI scanners increasing compared to 1992. According tothe survey, 45% of MRI systems were more than three years oldin 1993, compared to only 35% in 1992. The average age of equipmentin all other modalities declined in the same period, suggestingthat hospitals are holding onto MRI scanners longer, rather thanreplacing them.

Both cardiac cath labs and angio suites were popular, withthe average age of equipment in these modalities dropping, showingmore replacement activity. Some 48% of cath labs were over threeyears old in 1993, down from 59% in 1992, and 58% of angio suitesare over three years old, down from 72% last year. Small hospitalsin particular seemed to invest in these modalities, accordingto the survey.

Over 3000 hospitals were surveyed in the study, according toComdisco.