imageRetro is so in in some circles; indeed, in some camps, retro “fits” — like in digital radiology (DR), where the retrofit, or upgrade, approach promises healthcare providers the latest technology while tackling head-on what those customers cite as an insurmountable hurdle to their acquiring DR: Systems are cost-prohibitive. Retrofits, the pitch goes, keep prices down by incorporating components of customers’ existing systems into state-of-the-art digital rooms.

So if retrofits fit budgets better, hospitals and imaging centers must be clamoring for digital upgrades these days — or are they? What’s happened to retrofits since manufacturers first suggested them as an affordable transition from film-screen to digital X-ray technology? Has the real market lived up to the rosy predictions? Are upgrades making the grade?

Two years after this magazine first explored this thing called the DR retrofit, the market for X-ray upgrades appears — simultaneously — anemic and auspicious, depending on the source. Some companies, like GE Medical Systems Inc. (GEMS of Waukesha, Wis.), declare, flat-out, “We don’t retrofit systems.” Others, like InfiMed Inc. (Liverpool, N.Y.) pronounce, just as confidently, “Our focus is upgrades.” In between those extremes is, as expected, a muddy middle ground with businesses seemingly eager to offer upgrades while at the same time not seeming to have made much headway. Add to that a version of the what-goes-up-must-come-down theory, with market analyst firm Frost & Sullivan (San Antonio, Texas) reporting that even their own ’90s-decade predictions of growing opportunities for DR installations across the board are being revised these days — in a southerly direction.

Please refer to the December 2001 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis