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Interview with a radiographer

The Other Side 9:

 

Interview with a radiographer

Kate Davis is a diagnostic radiographer working with a private healthcare company. On Target asked her about how the medical technologies industry supplies this crucial diagnostic sector.

1. Which imaging modalities do you work with, and what is your influence on purchasing decisions?

Although I have experience of working within all specialities of radiography, for the last 10 years my interest has been in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. In my capacity as a unit manager, I have some influence on purchasing decisions. This does depend somewhat on whether the equipment or drug is to be used company-wide or only in my unit. The company management team will make the appropriate decision regarding contract purchase of a contrast agent drug, for example. However, if I require a particular contrast for a specific patient, I am able to agree this locally following advice from the consultant radiologist and the clinician.

In the event of equipment being purchased by the host Trust from a charitable donation, I will often be tasked with sourcing the options and providing a breakdown of the literature for the teams involved.

For major purchases, such as a new MRI scanner, I am heavily involved in the evaluation and selection of the equipment. All the relevant models are graded against stringent specifications before a final decision is made regarding the choice of machine and manufacturer. In the case of MRI equipment, the evaluation panel consists not only of the relevant company employees but also of representatives from the host hospital for which we are providing the imaging service.

2. Do purchasing procedures for this kind of equipment in private healthcare differ significantly from those in the NHS?

In my experience they are fairly similar. Regardless of the sector in which you work, the purchasing goal of everyone involved is the same. Purchasers want to acquire the best quality equipment for the least amount of money, and to ensure that adequate follow-up and after-sales support are available. The same process of evaluation against cost is always undertaken and benchmarked by the purchasing team.

3. What are your priorities in terms of the products and customer service provided by the medical technologies industry?

How well does the industry meet your needs? For the product to be successful it must meet the specific requirements of the task, be cost-effective and be easily accessible. The product must have an excellent safety record and a streamlined order process.

In the case of a major equipment purchase (for example, an MRI scanner), customer service is vital, as are the level of warranty and the service packages available with the system. Access to efficient and helpful call centres with speedy dispatch of engineers is also graded in the evaluation process, as minimal downtime of medical equipment is essential to the provision of high-quality service to the end users.

Follow-up applications and access to the most recent software releases are also important areas for consideration.

Currently, the industry meets the needs of the company very well. There are a number of major scanner manufacturers in the marketplace, all with high-quality systems to offer. The choice of system we make from those available depends on the throughput and diversity of examinations required from the scanner. The diagnostics industry provides a choice of contrast agents, and the needs of the sterile services are catered for by the suppliers available.

4. What advice would you give to medical technology sales and marketing professionals in terms of how they work with companies like yours?

There is always a central purchasing team for the company. If the product you are trying to promote is something that would be utilised across all sites of the company, the first point of call should be the company head office. If the product is specific to a unit or patient following instruction from clinicians or radiologists, then usually the Unit Manager or the Superintendent Radiographer would be approached in the first instance. The provision of relevant literature is important – in particular, radiographers generally like to see a mixture of case studies to support the documentation. This always helps us to picture the kind of results that we are likely to achieve by using a new product.

5. What are you hoping to see in the future, in terms of new products and how these products are sold and supplied for healthcare?

As scanning sequences develop in the world of MRI, there will be opportunities for the development of new contrast agents. The technology of MRI scanning will develop over time, with improved image quality being produced in shorter scan times. This will undoubtedly lead to increased patient comfort and tolerance of the scanning process in all the patients referred to us.

The provision of relevant literature is important – in particular, radiographers generally like to see a mixture of case studies to support the documentation. This always helps us to picture the kind of results that we are likely to achieve by using a new product.

 

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