Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How health care markets work

Thanks to @scanman and @gruntdoc for retweeting this story.

@OMGfacts reports that MRI machines in the US are being made larger to accommodate fatter Americans.  An excerpt:

The makers of MRI machines and other medical scanners are hurrying to make machines that are bigger and can withstand heavier people.  In the last 15 years, the diameters for CT scanners have grown 25% from 2 to 2 1/2 feet.

The source for this story is Newser, which reports: 

For equipment manufacturers, US obesity—which affects 28% of the population—offers a chance to rake in more cash. 

"The US is the biggest market for us, so every product we build has the obese American patient in mind," says a Siemens exec. "It more or less has turned into a design requirement." 

That story, in turn, refers to the original article in the Wall Street Journal:

Even as equipment grows, doctors say imaging obese patients remains challenging. Scanners now on the market fit all but the largest patients, but X-rays and other imaging signals still struggle to penetrate layers of fat and produce diagnostically useful images at normal doses. Radiologists say it takes much more radiation to effectively image obese patients, bringing new health risks.


Mark Harris said...

While the increased levels of obesity place greater demands on equipment - the real crunch comes for the people providing care. We can't build bigger, stronger nurses/ aides etc. but we can equip them with the skills, tools and knowledge to continue their good work without injury. There's a wealth of expertise contributing to dealing with this challenge led by, amongst others, the American Association for Safe Patient Handling and Movement http://aasphm.org/
Kind Regards

Anonymous said...

When a hospital's major surgical business is gastric bypass surgery, one has to meet the increasing demands of somewhat complex patients, including not only wide MR scanners and wheelchairs, but CT scanners and fluoro tables that are specially designed for patients who are frequently over 400 pounds. We have come a long way since we used to send our patients to be imaged on the Tufts veterinary scanner!

Anonymous said...

True and not quite true. Most of the older scanners had problems with even modestly large patients from the beginning. While there are certainly more obese patients now, driving the market, the older designs did not work with the 'available' patients....