Business / Industries

Medical firms focus on grassroots market

By Liu Jie in Xining (China Daily) Updated: 2012-07-26 11:00

When showing the device he is selling, Liu Simin usually has to explain that it is not a smartphone but medical equipment.

Looking like an iPhone, with a big screen and white in color, the device in Liu's hand can do all-body ultrasound diagnoses, color doppler ultrasounds and save and transfer data.

The Vscan, from international medical equipment and solution provider GE Healthcare, not only targets major hospitals, where doctors can use it to do immediate diagnosis, but also grassroots medical institutes, including village clinics, county and township hospitals and community health clinics.

"It's especially useful for general practitioners in rural areas, where big and expensive imaging machines are few and far between and doctors often travel from village to village visiting patients," said Liu, GE Healthcare China's clinical marketing manager.

"It's easy to carry, and its high-quality imaging allows for quick and efficient diagnoses. And data transfer facilitates remote consultation."

The Vscan is an important product for GE Healthcare, which will focus on the nation's grassroots market over the next few years.

Rachel Duan, president and CEO of GE Healthcare China, said the company plans to increase its sales in the grassroots market from less than 20 percent of the company's total at the moment to more than 50 percent in the next three to five years.

In addition to introducing products, such as the Vscan, the company will launch 32 newly developed products over the next three to four years.

Duan said 70 percent of the new products will be tailored to grassroots healthcare needs.

Since the beginning of 2011, GE Healthcare China has recruited 500 sales representatives in western China, and the medical business' sales in the world's second-largest economy increased by 20 percent year-on-year in 2011, said Mark Hutchinson, president and CEO of GE China.

Medical firms focus on grassroots market

Medical firms focus on grassroots market

Medical firms focus on grassroots market

New growth engine

GE Healthcare is not the only major multinational medical equipment manufacturer to focus on China's grassroots market.

Siemens Healthcare, the medical unit of Germany-based Siemens AG, launched its Agenda 2013 early this year, which is a two-year global initiative to grow innovative capacity and enhance the company's regional presence.

"Our objectives include further extending our portfolio of systems in the middle price segment, developing next-generation IT solutions that increase efficiency, and expanding our regional presence in fast-growing emerging markets," said Siemens Healthcare CEO Hermann Requardt.

Bernd Ohnesorge, CEO of the MR business unit at Siemens Healthcare, said that in China, the core is accessible innovation.

"To roll out our advanced imagining technology and improve access to healthcare in rural areas in China, particularly county-level hospitals, is something we are taking very seriously into consideration. This is also a trigger point to our decision under the umbrella of Agenda 2013 to particularly invest in Shenzhen," Ohnesorge said.

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