What's Hot in Diagnostics?

Edition: March 2002 - Vol 10 Number 03
Article#: 1176
Author: Repertoire

Your kids or your spouse probably wouldn't understand how anyone in their right mind could use the words ''hot'' and ''diagnostics'' in the same sentence. But most sales reps can. That's why we asked readers of our Dail-E News e-mail news service to tell us what's hot in diagnostics today. We also asked them how they convince customers of the opportunities that new diagnostic equipment and products provide them? Here's what they said.





We are at a time, which, historically, has never been matched. The knowledge being manifested through men's minds speaks of potential much beyond our own. I compare it to watching Star Trek as a child, and seeing doors automatically open. I thought, ''What would that be like?'' What we only once imagined is now reality. Not only do we have bone densitometers and temporal artery thermometers, but we will shortly have completely non-invasive glucose meters! If it can be imagined, the knowledge and means will be provided to bring it to market. Technology will not just inspire, but demand our attention in the healthcare market. We will surely one day see a hand-held scanner that diagnoses an entire array of vital statistics without ever contacting the patient. Star-Trek, here we come... (Independent manufacturer's rep)


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I am an architect. While we design many healthcare buildings to the latest and greatest standard, there isn't a consistent theme to the equipment purchases. It all depends on the hospitals' needs and target service area. I suppose the single most consistent equipment-related issue would have to be digital radiography. Everyone seems to want it or be converting to it over a number of years – especially large health systems.


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Electronic CO2 detectors are starting to take off in the EMS market. (Distributor)


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The HOT items [are] osteoporosis products like Sunlight. Also ABPM (automatic blood pressure monitors) which will be reimbursed by Medicare April 1, 2002. (Manufacturer's rep)


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I would think that home monitoring, vital signs and blood and urine chemistry testing would be the best opportunities. (Provider)


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Cardiac screening in the ER. Making the determination correctly between a cardiac event and indigestion is a significant financial gain for the hospital. Also, PT screening at home will be growing – save patients on coumadin from coming to the office for a blood stick and a reading.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities in diagnostics?] Customers in the case of cardiac screening are slow to accept this because the downside risk of sending someone home may be catastrophic. Need to have prolonged testing of various tests in combination with one another to convince ER staff of the accuracy of the determinations. For the PT testing, appropriate reimbursement to the individual, as is done with glucose testing. (Manufacturer)


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The fastest growing sectors of diagnostics seem to be glucose patient self-testing and nucleic acid testing [NAT]. As POC [point-of-care] tests like glucose continue to grow and gain acceptance, other POC or NPT [near patient testing] tests are likely to follow. Also, with the advances in nanomics and microfluidics, I expect to see a more rapid migration toward POC than we have seen in the past.


NAT is less well defined. There are a number of competing technologies now, and a rush toward analyte specific reagent (ASR) kits is starting to give ''home-brew'' testing more structure, which will hopefully lead to an increase in menu and broader acceptance. Reimbursement issues are still unclear, and that will hinder the growth somewhat. But as genomics and proteomics begin to loom larger on the diagnostics horizon, development of local expertise with NAT will become more and more of a driver.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] Our industry has not historically done a good job providing outcome study data, but clearly that is the direction we must head. Customers also need to see the vision of diagnostics moving from broad-based empirical testing to more specialized disease sub-set recognition (i.e., what is thought of as one disease today may be seen as three or four different molecular processes in the future), or to predisposition testing and genetic disease intervention monitoring. As genomics and proteomics mature and begin to change the landscape of routine diagnostics, customers need to see their suppliers as leading them toward that vision and providing the support necessary to take them there. (Manufacturer)


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I am a buyer of capital equipment. Hot today is digital imaging, robotic surgical equipment, less invasive procedures (CT colonoscopy), faster CT scanners, portable ultrasound, drug coated stents.


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As an [in vitro diagnostic] manufacturer, we see great opportunity in the growth of point-of-care testing and rapid diagnostic tests, including CLIA-waived assays.


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I've been finding that the Midmark Brentwood ECG has been hot for me for several months. Because the EMR placements are starting to take off, the capabilities of being able to tie this unit in with their system is a big plus – and it is not a big $ purchase. Also, the expansion potential from the same platform, i.e., PFT, holter is a plus.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] Presenting the advantages pretty much sells it by itself.


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I'm a sales rep in Oregon. Bone densitometry is the hot item right now. Osteoporosis has reached epidemic proportions. Doctors are starting to realize this and are looking for a cheaper way to perform this test. They are out there.


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The increase of CLIA-waived testing opens opportunities at all sites of care, and the increase of diagnostic tests which can be performed at home are both hot issues. Sellers need to increase awareness of the testing options available, and need to increase ''ownership''; testing does not have to be completely in the hands of reference labs.


[As a buyer, how do you make buying decisions about diagnostics?] Many of the tests being developed are a bit on the ''gee-whiz'' side. There has to be a clear need or very distinctive benefit to these tests. (Provider)


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The hottest thing we're selling is the Cholestech LDX system. It is a waived system and different lipid panel profiles are available.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] Do your homework, know the reimbursements, know the payers, know the cost (all) and be ready to sell when the customer is ready to buy. (Distributor)


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POC and self testing. Lower overall cost. Tremendous future/opportunity.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] Refer to many articles in leading industry journals. (Manufacturer)


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PT monitors (for coumadin therapy).


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] They convince themselves. (Distributor)


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There is a new retinal mapping laser on the market allowing early diagnosis of macular anomalies.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] Show them the patient benefits; show them how it generates an increased cash flow. (Other, that is, not a manufacturer, distributor, manufacturer's rep or provider)


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Digital. No paper, EMR [electronic medical records] integration. Huge opportunity – when practice opens up or converts to EMR, or when existing goes down.


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It is current and future technology. Look at business and the use of computers. It's a no-brainer. (Distributor)


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Blood analysis at the patient bedside.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] Quick turnaround on results, improved patient care, improved decision-making. (Manufacturer)


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New kits that make testing available without any capital purchase requirements are the next wave in diagnostic testing. Metrika has come out with a Hemoglobin A1C test that does not require an instrument. This opens the testing field to smaller physician offices that have never been able to justify the outlay of cash for the instrumentation to perform testing. The doctor wins because he offers more services in his/her office with an increased revenue stream, and the patient wins because their needs are all taken care of during one office visit. (Distributor)


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Ambulatory blood pressure. Just getting approval for reimbursement (Finally!).


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] Overall cost- and time-savings to avoid improperly treating patients who just have white coat syndrome…. (Manufacturers' rep)


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Our organization has been very successful selling the new Welch Allyn PanOptic. All reps have a demo unit, and we have featured it and their ear wash system at medical society shows.


[How do you convince customers of the opportunities?] ''Show them and they will buy.'' (paraphrased from ''Field of Dreams'') (Distributor)


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Hottest is automating autoimmune (ANA and reflex) tests with the Luminex technology. You can get nine tests simultaneously from one microplate sample well. Currently the ANAs are done by reading a slide, and the reflex tests are done individually on separate microplates. The current process is subjective, time-consuming and labor intensive. (Distributor)


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Bedside testing.


[How do you make buying decisions?] Show cost-savings over current modalities, excluding labor savings. Price and performance. (Provider)


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The scanning device that checks the blood vessels for plaque buildup using an MRI technology. Preventative medicine like this can prevent heart attacks, find beginning signs of cancer, and extend life. Currently not covered by insurance, but may be in the future. (Manufacturer)