Forecasting Demand & market targeting for your MRI clinic
The key step while deciding to install an MRI scanner for the facility is to estimate the market potential & evaluate the market share you wish to achieve. This step helps you to predict the patient load, the most common types of scan performed in your area & the competitive landscape. These will initially guide you in identifying your imaging needs
Here is a snapshot of the checklist of things that you should attempt to do in your initial market research:
- Conducting local Market Research: The majority of your patients for your MRI clinic initially will flow in from your local community. This should be treated as an opportunity to refine your services & treatment protocols so that your MRI clinic earns the reputation of a reliable center for all future imaging needs of your patients. It is therefore imperative that even before you start your center you should gather a detailed information of your local community in respect to other MRI facilities in your area such as the kind of equipments they have, patient load, office timings, and the kind of scans that are most common. These information would help you understand & fine tune your business & help you provide the needed differential advantage.
Often in this kind of scenario your independent medical equipment provider acts as excellent source for evaluating the market needs & the much needed competitive intelligence. Your provider should be able to support you with information & resources for your business projection in respect to the demographic & economic trends. Your equipment vendor can be a strong asset to support your imaging center growth need. A major equipment vendor should be able to guide you with cost effective solutions & equipment feasibility & training solutions.
Seek a service provider with proven success in supplying you with information on business feasibility & financial planning for your center as well as business knowledge of the competition. When your provider is in sync with your business planning it can be a great synergistic relationship that you can scale to reach new heights in business excellence.
- Potential Referral base: After you have done most of your local market research your physician referral base can give you the required reality check for the business prospect of your MRI facility. Engage with your local clinician & medical community to understand how & where patients are referred to for their imaging needs. Utilize the information from your referral base to look for trends and opportunities. You should be able to ask & answer yourself some of the following question
- Who are the leading medical practitioners in your area? What type of scans do they make their patients undergo?
- Where do these patients currently have their scans done?
- What kind of imaging equipments the existing centers have? Can I bring in an updated equipment for my community?
- What is the potential number of patients I should target? What is the minimum number of patients that I would require for my facility?
- What are the areas where I can differentiate in my offerings?
Often this step determines whether you should look at installing an upgraded MRI scanner to gain a competitive edge.
- Ability to attract business: In modern times a 1.5 T MRI system is the standard of care for most of the imaging needs. Though as a startup you may start with a MRI machine less than 1T however if you are already in a developed imaging market place you will lose the desired business edge. With new innovative technologies, high image quality & advanced applications like TIM (Total imaging matrix, proprietary application of Siemens) can dramatically improve the patient care experience. Do a good research to get yourself the best MRI system that you can afford.
Investing in a MRI system is a long term business commitment. Always factor in future workload & application support when you choose a MRI machine.
4. Local Market needs: Evaluate demographics, average age of the population, lifestyle & population of your catchment area. This would help you predict your business potential & pricing of your services accordingly. Identify the key services your referral physician or patients would need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Often these are quite basic like prompt exam scheduling, timely access to consults, minimal wait time & comfortable environment all of which all underlying good practices of a quality diagnosis.
5. Critical internal evaluation you should undergo before investing in a MRI:
Investing in a MRI facility is probably the single most expensive investment among your regular imaging modalities. Careful evaluation of internal expectations & investments needs to be done before committing to the project. A well thought out break even analysis addresses the number of scans that needs to be performed to cover the costs. Superimposing the desired patient load with the shortest possible time to break even helps to work out a suitable budget for the MRI machine. Check out the financing options available like cash purchase, bank loans etc. to freeze your budget for the machine purchase.
Investing in a MRI system for your imaging facility should not be visualized in isolation. Your MRI system should serve as an important addition for your local community’s healthcare needs. Do adequate market research & evaluation of your business prospects. This would help you to visualize & focus on your business growth ushering in early profitability.