As a thirty-something, the mobile medical imaging market is healthy, growing and evolving. Insiders expect increases in MRI, CT and positron emission tomography (PET) procedures to continue to drive the market. The number of potential customers also is on the rise. Richard Zehner, chairman and CEO of Alliance Imaging Inc. (Anaheim, Calif.), says increasing points of service is one factor of the industrys steady growth rate. Providers continue to serve many of their customers from the early days, and new customers, ranging from small rural hospitals to large, multi-physician practices, have jumped on the mobile bandwagon. But the mobile imaging market isnt confined to traditional healthcare facilities. CT and mammography are now available at shopping malls and in the workplace. Buck Fechick, president of Computed Imaging (Houston, Texas), says the aging population and their increasing need for medical care is another factor propelling growth in the mobile imaging market.
Customers turn to mobile medical imaging providers for a variety of reasons. Mobile equipment can be used to supplement existing equipment; the hospital might have a backlog of patients waiting for CT scans. John Vartanian, vice president of Medical Imaging Resources (Ann Arbor, Mich.), says, We see a lot of growth in mobile medical imaging. Nationwide, there is a need for overflow units. Hospitals cant build out fast enough. Some hospitals might have an older MR or CT system, and utilize a newer mobile unit for specialty service. Some hospitals are in the midst of construction project, and rather than lose an MR or CT room, they rent services from a mobile provider. Or in the case of smaller hospitals and larger physician practices, mobile equipment provides a way to bring an imaging service into the community instead of asking patients to make the trip to a larger urban hospital. Mobile also can provide a vehicle for assessing the need for or introducing a new modality.
Please refer to the March 2002 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis