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A shift from analog to digital equipment will push the overall Chinese X-ray market to the $1.32 billion mark by 2016, predicts the medical research company InMedica.

It says multinational suppliers, not Chinese companies, will reap most of that bonanza.

In a news release promoting a new report about the Chinese market, InMedica says shipments of analog X-ray equipment to China will decline at a compound annual growth rate of 14.2 percent over the next five years while the overall Chinese X-ray market increases at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 percent.

According to the release, the Chinese government, as part of a health-care reform announced in 2009, bought a lot of analog equipment for rural clinics. Many of those clinics are now trying to upgrade to digital.

China’s larger hospitals, in both rural and urban areas, are also going digital. The release says level 3 and large level 2 hospitals are looking to digital X-ray equipment to increase revenue. Once a hospital reaches its effective capacity of 100 daily patient scans per digital radiography (DR) system, it’s ready to buy an additional system.

The release quotes Owen Tang, a Shanghai-based analyst for InMedica, as saying that “almost all new systems purchased by these hospitals will be high-specification flat panel detector-based DR X-ray.” He added:

Unlike other kinds of X-ray equipment, such as mammography and fluoroscopy X-ray, DR equipment can help hospitals increase their revenue stream based on their more frequent use. In fact, return on investment is a critical factor for hospitals making a purchase decision, as current investment from the government is not enough.

Most of this new equipment will come from multinational companies, the release says: “Most level 3 hospitals and big level 2 hospitals [are] only willing to purchase the equipment from nondomestic suppliers.” Chinese manufacturers are concentrating their marketing on county-level hospitals.

No wonder GE Healthcare last year moved the global headquarters of its X-ray business to Beijing.

Related seminar: The Business of Radiology


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