Chander Shekhar Sibal, Executive VP, Medical Division, Fujifilm, shares his views on how Fujifilm is catering to the changes in the Indian medical devices market
A leader in digital imaging solutions for healthcare, how Fujifilm caters to the changes in the Indian market for medical devices? What is the growth potential in the Indian market?
In 2007-08, Fujifilm started its direct subsidiary business and dealership network and it has grown since then. We have acquired large base of customers be it hospitals, diagnostic centres, even in tier II and tier III cities. We have a broad bandwidth of customers. Our installation base was 3000 in 2007 and we have more 25,000 installations as of now. Fujifilm is a leader in sales of Computed Radiography (CR) and we are the largest consumers of CR worldwide and has overtaken the US, China and Japan. One fourth of the global production of CR is taken care by India and 50 per cent of market share for CR is within the country. With more than 75 years of imaging and clinical expertise in film and thousands of systems installed, Fujifilm is a leading provider of digital X-ray systems. We have a multi-fold focus and cater to different categories through our channel partners in tier II and tier III cities.
How are PPPs working in digital imaging space?
We have a separate team working on PPPs, as it is a specialised business and we have lot of documentation works and tendering process. We have supplied 92 CR machines to the Government of Andhra Pradesh. They were installed even in smaller areas. However, we are yet to receive the payments. The cost has also over run for this project. The major problem in PPPs is that the project timeline is not fixed, payments from the state governments don’t come on time. At times, it takes two to four years and the profitability is very less in such tenders. We have worked with the Government of Rajasthan and they are fine with the payments. As of now, we are working with the Governments of Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Even Government of Delhi has placed LOIs but they have not released the payments. Many state governments are digitising X-rays. Big private players like Max, Fortis, Apollo are upgrading from CR to DR gradually as there is a cost constraint in it.
How important is it to bridge the shortage of radiologists in the country? How is Fujifilm trying to bridge this gap with technology like quality picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and Radio Information System (RIS)?
Yes, definitely there is a shortage of radiologists. There are only 10,000 radiologists for one billion people. Fujifilm helps to bridge the gap via its advanced technology solutions by improving the efficiency of the system and the quality of reporting is enhanced. Fujifilm is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant of 1996. We take reports of tele-radiology network and digital signatures of doctors.
What are the latest technological advancements made in this segment?
In CR segment, the latest model is Prima version. It can do mammography and also do X-rays, at 50 micron resolution. It is compact table-top reader unit and has outstandingly high-speed processing. In terms of PACS, we have Synapse 5.0 where the speed is very high and the bandwidth requirement is 50 per cent less than the earlier version. The Synpase PACS solution is embedded with Oracle database and stability of the product is high. It has less service problem. Synapse 5.0 version will be available in the market by next year.
Gives us the details on tie-up with KRSNAA Diagnostics for PPP model and Skanray, to develop local PAP solutions. How does these initiatives help?
Our machines are present in most of the tier II and tier III cities, even the smaller villages have our CR machines. We have tie ups with KRSNAA Diagnostics. They have acquired CR machines from us for their complete Assam project. They have digitised X-rays where it was connected through the tele-radiology system. A central tele-radiology station is present where all the doctors sit and reports are sent back immediately.
Similarly, we have tied up with Skanray for there analog machines and jointly made the mobile DR system. Fujifilm wants to tie up with such organisations to make indigenous and low cost products. We give solutions to the customer which is cost effective and it also increases our revenue and sales.
What is the advantage of Fujifilm’s newest mammography solution Amulet Innovality. How will it help patients?
Fujifilm’s Amulet Innovality uses advanced tomosynthesis technology which enables the conversion of digital breast images into a 3-D reconstruction of the breast, in contrast to the flat images produced by traditional 2-D digital mammography. The advanced tomosynthesis technology reveals the internal structure of the breast thus simplifying the detection of lesions that gets overlooked in a routine mammography. The latest 50 micron 3D mammography enables technician to obtain a clearer view of the breast tissue, facilitating identification of early stage breast cancer and reducing the need for additional tests and biopsies. As for patients, the Fit Sweet (FS) compression paddle bends along the breasts, hence there is less pull on the chest wall. It results in no discomfort for the patient. Also, with three slits on the front side and right and left lateral sides of the paddle, the pressure is dispersed. With this new technology, we take care of doctors’ concerns in terms of resolution, operators – in ease of use and for patients, it is the comfortability offered. We have done 20 installations in India and it is one of the best mammography solution. It facilitates early detection of cancer and the patient undergoes less radiation exposure even than a standard chest X-ray.
How different and innovative is Fujifilm compared to other medical devices players in the market?
Our focus is mainly on the service. We give best experience to our costumers and supply the consumables and machines on time. We have warehouses pan India and we deliver faster. Our team of service engineers, vast dealer network and service franchise network helps our service engineers to reach anywhere in India within four hours. We are increasing our manpower in India and train diploma holders and employ them in smaller places, so that faster service or application support can be given to the doctors and that is the need of the hour.
How has Make in India initiative helped the medical devices segment?
Definitely, it is is a very good initiative by the government. As for Fujifilm, we are tying up with Indian companies and share our technology like the softwares, detectors and combining with their X-ray system. We are not into direct manufacturing but we will tie up with the existing Indian companies. As many state governments like Andhra Pradesh are coming out with Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone Limited (AMTZ), they are giving a lot of incentives. I think it is quite exciting but will take time to be implemented.
How do you see the move of the Union Health Ministry which has spent over Rs 100 crore for maintenance of 4,560 medical devices? The ministry informed that out of 756,000 equipment in 29,115 government medical institutions, 4,560 medical devices were not working. Your comments.
It is a right step by the central government. Even the state governments are focussed on the functions of the machines they acquire. It is better to review the machines on a timely manner and use it rather keeping them aside.