Remote surgical centres have hurdles to overcome
Whilst the creation of nontraditional surgical centres has many benefits, there also remain key challenges that need to be overcome. Firstly, the biggest question that must be addressed is how surgical centres will be adequately staffed? As Signify Research outlined in the Insight assessing the prospect of diagnostic imaging in malls, the key problem here remains; in a market where there is already a national shortage of radiologists, how can enough radiologists be recruited to carry out the additional procedures in outpatient surgical centres, as not only radiologists are needed, but surgeons, doctors and nurses too? With many hospitals being severely understaffed, this is a distinct challenge that must be addressed by healthcare providers.
Secondly, the cost of a portable mobile C-arm will be less than a traditional C-arm. Will the mainstream vendors invest time and resources in developing comparable products in a market that could be seen as a niche opportunity? It is possible that the existing technology will still be favoured and promoted, rather than the high investment required in research and development associated with launching a new product. Conversely, the leading vendors may elect to develop portable systems and subsequently form partnerships with medical imaging and surgical chains, once the product has traction in the market. This will be a potentially lucrative income stream. Also, purchasers tend to demonstrate high levels of brand loyalty. If other imaging devices (such as surgical X-ray or full C-arms) are being purchased from one major vendor, there is a high likelihood a portable mini C-arm will also be sourced from that vendor to assist with existing workflows. Brands with gaps in their product portfolio could miss out on larger multi-modality imaging deals if demand for portable C-arms increases.
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Questions also remain over the payment models centres will adopt. It is unknown how willing insurance companies will be to deal with smaller surgical centres as opposed to larger hospitals. Similarly in countries where there is a public health system, will the cost of procedures and imaging be covered in the same way it would be in a government hospital? However, this could open new payment models. Vendors like NanoX and Adaptix are exploring a cost-per-scan system, a move away from traditional payment methods. This could be an avenue the larger vendors choose to explore, creating a new income method from the usual hardware and software sales model.