At first glance, shopping for medical imaging equipment may seem like a task that might not lend itself to an eCommerce experience.
X-ray tubes can fetch $100,000. Servers for computed tomography can cost multiples of that. The equipment is specialized, high tech, bulky — and in some cases, depending on the situation, urgently needed when machines wear out and replacements parts are in demand.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Canon Medical Systems Programs Manager for USA Marina Sun noted that an industry marked by manual processes can see significant efficiencies realized through online platforms.
There are several parts (consumables for example) that are candidates for repeat purchases, and where smaller medical imaging players would find it less time consuming to be able to interact with suppliers through digital means.
As she told PYMNTS “an online presence is just one component when it comes to parts fulfillment,” but it’s an important one.
The typical process has involved a buyer picking up the phone to place an order with a parts specialist.
“Experiencing restricted part ordering accessibility despite an urgent need [to get imaging equipment up and running again] often constitutes an issue,” she said. “Also, resources always seem to be scarce, limiting the availability of when and how part orders are placed.”
At least some of those restrictions come as ordering activities have taken place during standard hours of operation, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Online platforms can streamline the procurement process, where interactions can be done as needed, Sun explained.
“They can place their orders any time of the day or night,” she said. “This helps expedite delivery times for replacement parts.
To that end, Canon Medical Systems USA last month said it introduced Medical Marketplace, an online store for medical imaging parts. In terms of mechanics, the platform offers inventory for medical imaging equipment, creating an additional source for those offerings beyond parts specialists.
Having the online platform available 24/7 allows buyers to search for inventory across all imaging modalities and gain more insight about pricing of particular parts, Sun said. The investment required to an online store would be cost-prohibitive for a smaller player (and connecting buyers and sellers would be a fragmented experience), but the eCommerce nature of a platform setting can offer healthcare organizations transparency on discounts and pricing.
Platforms can also streamline the buying process — where payment options can include discounts, purchase orders and credit card options (which across the industry are becoming more popular, she noted to PYMNTS, and are integrated into backend systems).
Sun explained that for purchase orders, a medical parts buyer would enter PDFs of the purchase order (PO) as part of the checkout process. Sun told PYMNTS that “credit card payments would reduce, if not eliminate, late payments.”
As Sun noted of the digitization of inventory management, “customers are able to complete the entire transaction online — querying available inventory by part number and modality. That option greatly expedites the search process.”