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Medical equipment updates, news and reviews

The Global Business of Dental Equipment

9 September, 2012 | CT Scanner, imaging equipment, medical equipment, News, Radiology

The outlook of the global dental industry looks positive to market analysts. According to a recent study published by Markets and Markets, the global dental equipment market which is valued at $4.5 billion in 2011, analysts expect the industry to increase at a CAGR of 5.8% between the years 2011 to 2016. There are many positive factors contributing to these projections, the main of which are growing markets in both developing and established countries that are driving demand for quality dental care and dental equipment.

The largest worldwide consumer segment for dental services is the aging population. This is evident in the increase in cases of oral disease and the use of dental prostheses like crowns, bridges and implants. Patients are more aware of the importance of dental care and are better able to afford it. Patients want development in painless dental procedures and more access to cutting edge technologies and cosmetic dentistry. To meet the market demand for increased dental care, greater numbers of dentists are graduating each year and with them new dental clinics have opened. This in turn increases returns for dental equipment manufacturers.

The potential for market growth is expected to be the most significant in developing countries, particularly in India and China who have in recent years taken the largest economic strides. For example, although public awareness of dental care is still growing in these parts of the world, increased insurance coverage and rising income levels are expected to encourage greater use of dental care services. As well, easier regulations regarding the introduction of new medical technologies and how they are priced cause dental manufacturers to be very motivated to increase their market presence in developing countries. Asian countries like India, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore will likely present the greatest opportunities since their populations and affluence are on the rise particularly among the growing middle class. This promises regular market growth that will perpetuate demand for dental care moving forward.

Developed countries across North and South America and Europe are the most established dental markets and so show the highest concentration of equipment manufacturers. They also have significant aging populations with the means to afford costly dental treatments and pursue advanced dental procedures in the care of their teeth.

To meet market needs, dental equipment manufacturers have been gearing technology advances towards improving dental procedures, pain management, diagnosis and efficiency. Some of the improvements have been state of the art imaging and radiology to support fast and effective diagnosis and solutions that speed up the production of dental prostheses like CAD/CAM technology.

Major worldwide dental equipment companies include: Danaher Corporation, Sirona Dental Systems, Planmeca Oy, A-Dec Inc., BIOLASE Technology Inc., Midmark Corporation, Nakanishi Inc., GC Corporation, Henry Schein Inc., Patterson Dental, Sybron Dental Specialities Inc., and Young Innovations Inc..

Growth Predicted for Refurbished Equipment Market

5 September, 2012 | maintenance & installation, medical equipment, News

Greater accessibility and improvements in medical parts and repair technology makes refurbished equipment increasingly more attractive to equipment buyers. As a result, in spite of challenging global economies, the refurbished equipment market shows consistent gains. An analysis by ‘Markets and Markets’ for the period of 2012-2017, projects that the global refurbished medical equipment market will be worth $8.45 billion by 2017 with a CAGR of 7.8%.

As an economical choice that presents significant savings over purchasing new medical equipment, refurbishment offers unique opportunities for medical equipment buyers. For example, refurbished equipment does not undergo specification changes, only parts replacement. Depending on your country’s regulations, there may be no need for special approval for refurbished equipment. As well, since it is professional equipment technicians and engineers who refurbish and test medical equipment, often from the original equipment manufacturer, buyers can feel good about their device’s reliability.
There are three types of refurbishment: visual, major parts replacement or fully refurbished.

  • Visual Refurbishment: includes testing the equipment to ensure it works properly and cosmetic improvements.
  • Major Parts Replacement: includes testing equipment and replacing major parts; which may not necessarily be new, and improving and updating the equipment’s overall performance.
  • Fully Refurbished Medical Equipment: includes complete reconstruction of equipment to the original specifications. Professionals test the equipment and usually give a warranty guaranteeing the device.

The companies that typically handle refurbishment are either the original equipment manufacturer or a reputable 3rd party service provider. Most large equipment manufacturers like GE Healthcare, Siemens Healthcare, Philips Healthcare, Stryker Corporation, Johnson & Johnson and Toshiba Medical System have established refurbishing departments in response to the growing demand.

Taking Control of your Medicine

3 September, 2012 | medical equipment, MedWOW, News

Is our reliance on doctors in decline? After looking at the plethora of new medical devices entering commercialization, there’s a noticeable trend that new devices are being designed that empower patients to monitor, diagnose and even treat their own health.

Since the advent of the internet and social media, patients are more inclined to manage their own medical treatments thanks to the enormous amount of information available online.

In response to this shift in the public’s attitude towards medicine, medical device manufacturers are creating medical devices geared towards patient ‘self-care’ that embrace convenience and affordability. For example, new devices allow patients to take care of their health at home or on the go – something that’s important in today’s busy modern world. As well, the relatively low costs of the technology powering these devices make them possible for private individuals to purchase.

Here are just a few products to highlight that offer solutions to medical dilemmas patients face every day:
Startup Scanadu Inc., is currently developing a handheld device that interacts with smartphones to identify common illnesses such as the flu and strep throat. The device is expected to be popular among parents to check if their child’s symptoms necessitate a visit to the doctor.
Company Rest Devices is working towards FDA approval for its washable T-shirt that monitors overnight respiration in sleep-apnea patients. The device is important since it prevents patients from making overnight clinic visits for monitoring.
Likewise Orthocare Innovations LLC, a prosthesis start-up, is marketing a foot and ankle device that adjusts both automatically or by the patient with the help of a smartphone. The product gives patients greater independence and saves them from having to pay frequent visits to the prosthetist’s office for adjustments.

We can likely expect to see more medical innovations like these to enter the market. Of course in view of the wide variety of medical devices available, some doctors worry medical devices give patients a false sense of security; that doctors are no longer necessary. They warn patients that their doctors have a crucial role to play as their health care partners to oversee patient use of medical devices. On the whole however, the medical field views medical devices as positive tools that address the public’s interest in their wellbeing.

ECG Paramedic Instruction Saves Lives

26 August, 2012 | Cardiology Equipment, Emergency Equipment, intensive care, medical equipment, Pacemakers

Paramedics and Patient

In cases of severe heart attack such as STEMI (ST- segment elevation myocardial infarction), delay in restoring blood flow directly impacts the patient’s medical outcome. An audit in 2005 conducted by Canadian hospitals in the province of Manitoba, reviewed ambulatory procedures for cardiac patients. The audit revealed that only 14% of patients received blood clot dissolving medication within 30 minutes of their first contact with paramedic staff and merely 11% received primary percutaneous coronary intervention within 90 minutes. These delays are dangerously high for time sensitive, emergency cardiac situations such as the ones that were reviewed.

In an effort to turn the situation around, a study led by Robin A. Ducas, MD, of the University of Manitoba found that empowering paramedics in mobile ECG use and increasing their knowledge base regarding the diagnosis of STEMI significantly reduced patient morbidity and mortality as published in the July/August 2012 issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

AS part of the study, onsite Paramedics used ECG on patients with chest pain looking for cases of STEMI. Coordinating remotely with physicians through wireless device transmission for accurate diagnosis allowed paramedics to determine and immediately administer the appropriate medical treatment to restore the patient’s blood flow. Further, upon arrival to hospitals, cases of STEMI were brought directly to the Cardiology Department instead of the EU, where all emergency patients were previously taken to first receive diagnosis and initial treatment.

This seemingly minor change in protocol is a nice example showing how delegating medical duties in combination with effective use of mobile cardiology equipment makes significant improvements in patient care and the use of hospital resources. Speedy diagnosis allows for immediate emergency care, easing congestion in the EU and meaningfully reducing delays in the treatment of conditions where time is critical.

The study concluded that training Paramedics to use and interpret ECG saves lives. It demonstrates that sharing diagnostic duties with the immediate emergency medical staff on site reaps positive benefits across the board and warrants possible expansion to include training in other time sensitive emergency conditions.

Expanding Profitability in Chinese Grassroots Markets

22 August, 2012 | imaging equipment, medical equipment, News

As part of China’s campaign to improve public access to health care, its grassroots rural areas have been enjoying a much needed infusion of government funding to the tune of $9.86 Billion USD. Medical equipment purchasers need to equip 33,000 new and renovated facilities with cutting edge medical equipment. Although health care providers lean towards the stability and durability of major western medical equipment companies, facility budgets necessitate practical problem solving strategies from equipment companies to balance affordability with western quality.

In addition to major medical equipment, there is demand for wireless diagnostic devices for traveling doctors who take care of widely dispersed rural communities. Doctors’ require affordable, reliable, devices for imaging and vitals monitoring with wireless capabilities for diagnosis consultation with other doctors located at larger facilities.

Major medical equipment companies GE Healthcare, Siemens Healthcare and Philips Healthcare who combined already represent 70 percent of the high end medical device market in China have been gearing up to expand their market share in this new growing rural market and meet their immensely diverse needs As an example,answering to the challenge to maintain quality on all products and yet reduce their prices, these major manufacturering companies have established production and development centers in western China where they can increase cost efficiency by using the local work force and domestic parts.

Competing western medical equipment companies are focusing their market expansion efforts on the medium cost area which they feel has the most potential for growth. For example, GE Healthcare plans to market 32 new medical products, 70 % of which will be geared towards China’s rural market over the next 3-4 years.
Similarly, company Siemens Healthcare has launched a 2-yr initiative to focus on mobile medical devices in the ‘medium price range’ in new and developing markets. This initiative includes R&D development of products specifically for county hospitals in rural China.

The relative ease in commercializing new products as well as the high demand for western quality medical equipment technology makes increasing market presence and distribution channels in China and the rest of Asia to be highly profitable and forward thinking.

Who’s Hiding Medical Equipment?

12 August, 2012 | medical equipment, News

It’s not surprising that increased numbers of mobile medical equipment at hospitals pose a challenge to track their whereabouts; however what is surprising are the findings of a study done by GE Healthcare that equipment is not just disappearing, they are being intensionally hidden by Nurses.

According to the GE study, Nurses spend more than 20 minutes per shift looking for medical equipment. This inefficiency takes nurses away from patients and accumulatively represents a tremendous amount of wasted hours. The study concluded that the perceived unavailability of equipment causes departments to request acquisition of additional devices that ultimately sit unused, wasting facility budgets. More equipment contributes to raising health care costs and ironically further increases the difficulty for nurses to find equipment.

If medical staff feels forced to hoard equipment in the first place, it’s more puzzling why there isn’t improved tracking of equipment? It would stand to reason that medical facilities have a vested interest in protecting their financial equipment investment and would want to optimize staff efficiency, especially since the technology needed to track equipment already exists for different purposes.

Various healthcare information systems like patient and asset tracking systems or material management information systems already operate in many facilities. The patient and asset tracking for example uses tracking chips to locate patients and specific equipment to prevent their exit from the facility and systems for managing scheduling exist. A software company could either adjust an existing program or create a new system for specifically this purpose. The task would not require creating new innovation but rather using accepted methods already available. For now however no apparent organized locator strategy is being implemented to answer this problem.

The influence equipment hoarding is having on hospital efficiency and its costs make this an important issue needing to be addressed and resolved by hospital administrators.

MRI Reveals Live Birth from Inside the Body

29 July, 2012 | imaging equipment, medical equipment, MRI, News

Our understanding of the birthing process and the Medical Equipment associated with giving birth have advanced tremendously over modern medical history however dangerous complications can still arise placing both the mother and infant at risk. In 2005 there were 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births published in the United States, The World Health Report 2005. To gain greater acumen into this problem is to ‘look inside’ the complicated process of birth and provide experts with a new perspective to potentially help prevent deaths in the future.

Exploring new applications for advanced imaging technology MRI, German scientists at the Charite University Hospital in Berlin have performed the first live birth using MRI Equipment. By taking multiple images of the same location in the body, a technique called Cinematical MRI, researchers put the images together to create a movie of a live birth revealing how an infant enters the world from inside of the body.

This unique perspective is valuable to doctors; observing how the infant actually moves through the pelvis and birthing canal contributes to medical understanding of birth and how better to conduct birthing procedures. In this way the Charite Study gives the Obstetrics & Gynecology field a fresh educational tool for training purposes. Perhaps moving forward however, a practical MRI Imaging solution could be developed that would assist in cases of risky births to allow delivery staff to see problems sooner and aid in improving the mother’s safety and reduce hospital exposure to malpractice suits.

The birth in the study occurred in November 2011 and it was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, however the video has only recently been released for public viewing. The mother in the study was not exposed to any health risks. MRI technology is accepted as a safe diagnostic tool over other imaging technology with no proven health risks to pregnant women.