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RADIOLOGY/RADIOGRAPHY


Easingtheroute tonew diagnostic technology


Penny Pinnock, sales manager – healthcare & public sector, for Siemens Financial Services in theUK, examines howasset finance can support the upgrade of radiology and diagnostic technology in a growing private healthcare market.


The UK private healthcare market is predicted to grow from more than £8.84 billion in 2016 to more than £10.6 bn by the end of 2025.1


Increasing life expectancy


is driving the demand for the treatment of age-related conditions such as cancer, dementia and heart disease – while increasing global wealth is causing a surge in people’s ability to pay for all or part of their medical treatment.2 As part of this growth, the clinical demand for radiology services in England continues to rise. Between 2013 and 2016, both MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans saw an increase in use of more than 30% each.3 Much of this increase in demand in the private healthcare market and radiology services is being driven by patients opting to ‘self-pay’ for diagnostics tests (or radiology) and elective procedures, such as hip and knee replacements, rather than pay for ongoing health insurance, often as a result of growing NHS waiting lists for


key diagnostics test and treatment.4 Overall advancements in nuclear medicine imaging have led to improvements in the detection and identification of numerous diseases. These advantages, however, can only be realised if healthcare providers have access to the latest radiology equipment and technology.


MRI systems and diagnostic imaging equipment


Recent research shows that many machines that are used on a daily basis for diagnostic tests and to deliver cancer treatment to patients are years past their recommended date of use. In 2017, 58% of MRI systems in the UK were at least five years old, and therefore unable to conduct state-of-the-art imaging, such as that needed for certain types of heart and prostate cancer scanning.5 Furthermore, 29% of MRI systems in the UK are at least 10 years old, and there are no succession plans in place for nearly 40% of MRI systems that are over seven years old.6


Penny Pinnock, sales manager – healthcare & public sector, for Siemens Financial Services


It is widely attested that equipment age and sophistication are important because ultimately these factors underpin the quality of services and drive improved patient care. Furthermore, in terms of availability of diagnostic imaging equipment, the UK also falls behind most of its European counterparts, with fewer computed tomography (CT) scanners (8 per million population compared to an EU average of 21.4) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners (6.1 per million compared to an EU average of 15.4).7 Further analysis of NHS finances found that capital spending in the UK for healthcare, including equipment acquisition, was also low compared with other OECD countries, at 0.3% of GDP compared with an average of 0.5%.8


As competition in the private healthcare sector increases, providers need to be equipped with the most up-to-date technology to ensure they are ready to meet demand and attract patients. In particular, ‘self-pay’ customers want fast and accurate diagnosis and healthcare treatment that they may not be able to access from the NHS. Within certain travelling distance limitations, technology capability is one of the key factors with which to attract patients and the income they bring with them. In fact, a relatively small investment in up to date equipment and technology could result in significant improvements and therefore pay for itself many times over. Older medical equipment – especially in the diagnostics area – is more expensive to


30 I WWW.CLINICALSERVICESJOURNAL.COM MAY 2019


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