OREM, Utah – July 8, 2009 – With many hospitals and imaging centers still struggling to reconcile technology budgets amid a tough economy, digital mammography has proven to be a solid investment for many healthcare providers. While a switch from traditional film mammography to digital technology can present a learning curve for clinicians, according to a new report from KLAS, many providers feel that digital mammography pays for itself when done right.
In Digital Mammography: Hot Market in a Cool Economy, KLAS interviewed more than 200 healthcare professionals about their use of full-field digital mammography (FFDM) solutions. The FDA has noted that roughly half of the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA)-certified facilities in the United States have now adopted digital mammography equipment; and according to the KLAS report, many of those who have made the switch to FFDM systems have increased their capacity for patient throughput, leading to a strong ROI for the new technology.
As one provider executive stated in the report, “Before we were digital, we had a one-year backlog of mammo exams. Now that we have digital mammo coupled with modern scheduling and a PACS, we can schedule patients the same day for diagnostic exams. For routine screenings, we can schedule patients within a week. In the past, we were losing business when we had the one-year backlog, but now things are so much more efficient.”
However, the proper environment is an important factor in gaining those benefits. “When used in conjunction with complementary technologies, in a prepared environment and with a staff committed to digital workflows, digital mammography is a definite win,” said Ben Brown, KLAS general manager of imaging informatics and author of the mammography study. “The transition does usually require both the technician and the physician to restructure their workflow, a process that reportedly can take several months; but most providers find that the efficiency gains outweigh the learning curve.”
Of the four vendors rated in the report, Hologic Selenia earned the top performance score (88.3 out of 100) by a slim margin over GE Senographe Essential (88.0). Although Hologic ultimately claimed the lead in this year’s study, the company switched places with GE several times over the last year, making a clear winner difficult to predict. The other vendor products rated in the report are FUJIFILM Aspire ClearView-CSm and Siemens MAMMOMAT NovationDR.
The report also noted that image quality is rarely a differentiator in digital mammography buying decisions or vendor performance scoring. The more critical metrics are physician preference – specifically the imaging tools, overall workflow and navigation – and service and support. Regarding the latter, the study showed that provider satisfaction is closely tied to the local coverage provided by field service engineers.
While the four vendors rated in this KLAS report currently control the digital mammography market in North America, several others wait in the wings, eagerly anticipating FDA approval and subsequent expansion into the United States. These vendors include Agfa, Carestream, Konica, Philips, Sectra and others.
To learn more about the digital mammography market, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of participating vendors, the report Digital Mammography: Hot Market in a Cool Economy is available to healthcare providers online for a significant discount off the standard retail price. To purchase the full report, healthcare providers and vendors can visit www.KLASresearch.com.