Hospitals Show Poor Vitals
A recent report from Moody’s revealed that rising labor costs, a shift in patient mix, declining reimbursements, and patients’ move towards nonhospital settings had a big impact on hospital profits last year. Average operating margins declined to 8.1% in 2017 (vs. 9.5% in 2016), reaching the lowest level in the last ten years, and particularly impacting lower-rated hospitals. Not a good sign if you’re selling to hospitals, but it still creates an opportunity if you lead with a value proposition that embraces cost-savings and/or new-revenue-generation, and it’s also a good a reminder to also increase your focus on nonhospital settings.
Hackers: Good Branding, Bad Deeds
A hacker group dubbed “Orangeworm” is reportedly targeting medical imaging equipment as part of a corporate espionage operation largely aimed at healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. Symantec claims that the group installed backdoor malware called Kwampirs on the imaging systems, providing remote access, and allowing them to learn more about the imaging machines before expanding malware across the devices’ networks. Although Orangeworm’s specific intentions are still unclear, and there is no evidence of planned sabotage, Kwampirs certainly presents a threat (and these guys need to get a real job).
Anthem and Hospitals Battle Over Outpatient Imaging
Hospitals owned by HCA Healthcare, Sentara Healthcare, and Piedmont Healthcare are taking Anthem to court over the insurer’s new policies restricting outpatient imaging reimbursements and refusing reimbursements for emergency department visits that are later deemed to be non-emergencies (both big moneymakers). The hospitals argue that requiring pre-approval for imaging procedures eliminates their ability to use clinical judgement in their imaging decisions and pointed out that Anthem is using this change as a negotiation tactic by exempting hospitals that agree to lower rates.
SuperSonic Imagine Launches Aixplorer Mach 30 Ultrasound Platform
SuperSonic Imagine announced its new Aixplorer Mach 30 smart ultrasound platform, updating the existing Aixplorer platform after several years of development. The model leads with usability improvements delivered by its new SonicPad, which allows physicians to view clinical information on the screen (vs. scanner controls). The Aixplorer Mach 30 launches with a new range of probes, and updated ShearWave elastography – SWE PLUS – with the latest generation of SuperSonic Imagine’s UltraFast imaging technology, which brings improvements to speed and examination depth. The new system is still awaiting CE marking and FDA clearance, although it’s expected to become commercially available in the coming months.
Q1 2018 Brings Strong Imaging Financials
The first wave of financial reports for the January-March period rolled-in, revealing solid medical division performances from GE and Philips, and mixed medical results from Canon and Analogic
- Canon’s overall revenue fell by 1.2% to ¥960.7 billion ($8.8b), while operating profit increased 5.3% to ¥77 billion ($705m). Medical sales fell by 11.1% to ¥117 billion ($1.07b) due to an unusually strong Q1 2017, while medical net profit increased 6.2% to ¥10.5 billion ($96m). Most notably, Canon forecast a strong full-year performance for its medical division, with revenue increasing by 7.8% and profit increasing by 20% versus 2017.
- Philips posted a 31.5% drop in revenue to €3.94 billion ($4.8b) and a 52% decline in net income to €124 million ($150m), although comparable revenue increased 5% when excluding one-time charges. Revenue from its imaging business increased by an impressive 9% to €1.53 billion ($1.85b), driven partially by strong ultrasound sales, while revenue from its Connected Care division remained flat at €663 million ($805m).
- GE beat Wall Street’s expectations and posted a strong medical performance, but still took another loss. Overall revenue increased 7% to $28.7 billion but didn’t prevent a net loss of $1.2 billion attributed to legal charges from its discontinued U.S. mortgage business. Healthcare was a bright spot for GE with revenue up 9% to $4.7 billion and profit up 11% to $735 million.
- Analogic’s fiscal Q2 revealed a 2% drop in overall revenue to $129.2 million and a greater decline in net income to $6.5 million (vs. $7.5 million). Revenue from the company’s medical imaging segment fell by 12% to $63.4 million due to lower CT and MR sales, while its ultrasound segment enjoyed 8% revenue growth to $43.5 million due to strength in North America and Europe.
- Roughly one month after launching in Japan, Shimadzu announced its Lightvision Near-Infrared Fluorescence Imaging System globally (used to visualize lymph and blood vessels during breast cancer treatment), marking the vendor’s entrance into the near infrared segment.
- Healthcare AI company, Viz.ai, achieved FDA 510(k) clearance for its new Viz CTP solution, which allows imaging professionals to view and analyze functional and dynamic CT perfusion images, automating cerebral-image analysis.
- Researchers developed a new PET scanning method, using 3D medical imaging techniques and machine learning (vs. slice by slice techniques), that they claim can reduce patient radiation exposure while also improving usability, speed, and image quality.
- In case you needed a blockchain/crypo topic to share with your buddy who doesn’t stop talking about it, BIS Research forecast that the market for healthcare-related blockchain technology will reach $5.61 billion by 2025 (vs. just $176.8 million in 2018) due to its ability to improve healthcare interoperability and security.
- Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found a superior way to diagnose prostate cancer (vs. traditional ultrasound) using a contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging technique, called subharmonic imaging.
- Mednax acquired Houston-based radiology group, Women’s Radiology Associates (6 radiologists), integrating the company with its nearby Synergy Radiology Associates practice, and marking its sixth radiology practice acquisition (fifth this year).
- Carestream launched an upgraded version of its Clinical Collaboration reporting workflow platform, adding a new rule-based Workflow Orchestrator, integrated chat, live screen sharing features, and a Integrated Report Analytics module.
- Konica Minolta Medical Solutions Japan will merge into Konica Minolta Japan in July, creating a single company targeting Japanese businesses (both medical and non-medical), and providing the medical division with a larger sales force and improved support. Although this move may be isolated to Japan, it could also serve as the blueprint for future KM healthcare division mergers in other regions.
- The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance will expand its standards for servicing imaging devices (NEMA Standard) to cover all medical devices (not just medical imaging) in an effort to create a universal medical device industry standard.
- Scary stuff – A recent study from the American Journal of Infection Control found that 71% of reusable medical scopes that qualified as ready for use on patients tested positive for bacteria at three major U.S. hospitals, highlighting the infection risk associated with using hard-to-clean endoscopes.
- Former GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt is a tough act to follow, but mega practice Radiology Partners continued to fill its Board of Directors with big industry names, this time adding former president and CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health, Joel Allison.
The Resource Wire
- Agfa whitepaper on augmented intelligence and intelligent workflows
- Caresteam video interview details Clinical Collaboration Platform success story
- Canon and Toshiba publish “New Horizons in Ultrasound” report
- Fujifilm video outlines its women’s health solutions
- GE video overview on Centricity Universal Viewer
- IBM Watson post highlights client success at The Iowa Clinic
- Konica Minolta publishes latest Kontours issue
- Olympus webinar on bringing endoscopic ultrasound to community hospitals
- Olympus video on the benefits of using CO2 in endoscopy
- Philips article highlights pediatric radiology innovations
- Philips video highlights its radiology solutions at ECR 2018
- Philips article on managing cybersecurity risks in healthcare
- Siemens video on digitalizing healthcare in radiology
- Siemens and the HBR’s perspective on transforming care delivery
- Siemens and the HBR paper on “The Power of Digitalizing Healthcare”
- Siemens video on expanding precision medicine with BioMatrix technology