Article • 06/17/2008

Private investments spurred medical imaging equipment in Eastern Europe

The public health sector in Eastern Europe is moving from a erratic and unpredictable system in a favourable environment for private investors. In particular hospitals use private financers to invest in medical imaging equipment - and therefore improve the outlook for medical imaging markets, according to a new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

Medical Imaging Markets in Eastern Europe

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Eastern European Medical Imaging Modalities Markets, finds that the markets earned revenues of $299.8 million in 2007 and estimates this to more than double by 2014 to reach $631.5 million.

"Healthcare financing and a burgeoning private sector are creating opportunities for the growth of the medical imaging modalities market in eastern Europe," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Smruti Munshi. "Private sector growth plays a very important role in the financing of healthcare infrastructure, services and equipment."

The public sector, which was previously fraught with issues such as the lack of transparency in revenue collection and erratic and unpredictable payments, is now moving towards a more favourable environment for private investment. Private health insurance is reducing the pressure on the public insurance system and serving as a source of financing to rebuild infrastructure in the eastern European region.

Major medical imaging modality vendors, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), are positive about the development of the private sector, as it is a more attractive source of revenue than the public sector. Insurance companies and individual operators are also supporting growth in the medical imaging modalities market in Eastern Europe.

"Private sector growth is contributing positively to the medical imaging market, particularly for high-end medical imaging equipment," comments Munshi. "The private sector owns and runs several diagnostic centres for MR and CT in Eastern Europe. Being self-financed, such centres are open to vendors' recommendations of purchasing more sophisticated, high-end equipment that will enhance patient throughput and eventual return on investment."

Increasing awareness about privatisation, coupled with the associated benefits of private sector services, is causing governments to relax policies and encourage private sector investment with regard to diagnostic services and the purchase of new medical equipment in these countries.

Currently, the market is dominated by old equipment, particularly in modalities that are the most popular and commonly used, such as X-rays. Strict healthcare budgets and low reimbursement have resulted in little incentive to replace existing X-ray systems and purchase new ones. Moreover, upcoming imaging modalities such as CT and MRI offer high reimbursement at low costs, making the market unpredictable.

"Although countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are becoming more stable, they still experience many challenges that will need to be overcome if market success is to be sustained," remarks Munshi. "The healthcare systems in these countries are also state controlled, resulting in tenders being awarded to local participants as governments prefer dealing with them."