According to Hermann Requardt, CEO of Siemens Healthcare at a briefing during the 100th Annual Meeting of the RSNA, “Healthcare is showing signs not of instability, but of transition. The US is feeling frustrated, according to health economists, that we don’t get enough value from every dollar spent on healthcare in this country, compared with other countries that are spending less.” The continuous rise of healthcare costs is the driving force behind healthcare reform in the US. What’s needed, and what’s already begun to happen is a fundamental change in healthcare business models, Requardt reported. “This change is being experienced world-wide, not limited to the US under Obamacare. The role of the service provider is changing,” he says. “And as our customers’ business models change, the focus of our topics is also changing. We will continue , of course, to focus on medical imaging and diagnostics, but specifically, we’re focusing on innovations in treatment decisions. We want to help our customers make the right clinical treatment decisions at the right costs.” In terms of future growth, Requardt said that currently, 50 percent of the healthcare business comes from the US, China and Japan and he expects additional growth in those areas; traditional growth expectations in some areas such as Japan, slower growth in other areas like the US and new growth strategies for other markets. “In China, for instance, Siemens growth will follow a different pattern. Traditionally, Siemens sells into specialty departments because we need a certain level of expertise for our products. In rural areas in China, there are few specialists so we are adapting. How do we bring imaging equipment to general physicians in rural China? These are the growth strategies we are planning in this area,” he says. Siemens and other imaging manufacturers have all been squeezed by reduced government healthcare spending across Europe as well as consistent reductions in CMS reimbursement in the US along with shifting funding priorities in the US to programs such as meaningful use, requiring budgetary investments that have impacted available budgets for capital equipment investments. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, J.P Morgan is said to have estimated growth for the global market for healthcare equipment and solutions to be between one and two percent this year, with only a slight improvement expected in 2015.
Claudette Lew is associate editor, ImagingBiz.com.