Survey shows optimism in medical device growth for 2009

Dan Anderson

When a group of my friends and I gathered on Election Night to watch the returns come in, the conversation led to the topic of change. Regardless of whom we had cast our vote for, each of the candidates had embraced the word “change” as part of their stump rhetoric.

So it was a little heartening to see some change in the views of people working in the medical imaging industry. Amid all the darkness, a little light. Only the faint flicker of some guarded optimism, but light nonetheless.

It came in the form of an opinion survey by the Texasbased research firm Emergo Group. Their survey of more than 1,000 manufacturers, distributors, and service providers showed 61% believe sales of medical equipment will increase in 2009. Only 9% expect sales to slow.

The results were from an e-mail survey conducted October 13-20. If you think these respondents are wildly optimistic, consider that before the survey was taken, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, WaMu, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had already buckled, and Congress had approved a $700-billion bailout of the financial sector.

It’s not as though the respondents didn’t have some facts to work with. And, yet, despite the depressing news of late September and early October, they see a silver lining to the ominous clouds that have gathered over the medical device industry.

Perhaps the most heartening result was that among the respondents, 60% work for companies with fewer than 100 employees, and approximately 67% of respondents were from North America. Jobs on the home front—that’s something to be optimistic about.

You can find the full survey results at

We had a less-scientific survey at Axis Imaging News. Our online poll in November asked readers, “Have the DRA cuts been less than, about the same as, or worse than expected?” About 56% said the impact was about what they expected it to be. Those who felt it was better or worse than expected were evenly split.

In its own small way, that number is pretty significant. It means that the industry has adjusted well to the reimbursement cuts. Not that the reductions were pleasant, but on the whole, the industry has managed to endure.

What lies ahead? A new national leader will take the oath of office next month. President-elect Obama has indicated there are areas, including health care, that need immediate attention. Chances are that shoring up Medicare, assisting states with Medicaid, and addressing physician reimbursements will be on his 100-day agenda.

This month’s Last Word column, written by one of our editorial advisers, Doug Mancino, and an associate in the Los Angeles law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery, includes some insight on the first few months of the new administration.

The new year promises many new issues, but also opportunities. And if the survey respondents are any indication, things might take a turn for the better.

Now that’s change we can all believe in.

Dan Anderson
Editorial Director