The average price that healthcare facilities paid for cardiac mapping systems was 50% higher between June and August as compared with the same period last year. The price increases come as increasingly sophisticated systems rely more on specialized software.
The average price of the systems for the three-month period was $327,391, according to the Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index. The TPI provides monthly and annual data about pricing of 30 supply and capital items that hospitals and other provider organizations purchase, based on three-month rolling averages.
Cardiac mapping, essentially a GPS for the heart, allows physicians working in an electrophysiology lab to display a high-tech catheter's location over a 3-D image of the heart to visualize the catheter's location during procedures intended to resolve heart rhythm issues such as arrhythmia. The image is usually based on a preoperative CT or MRI.
The computer-based systems range in software features, which can be added to create a personalized system based on a hospital's needs and specifications. Demand for more complex software modules, such as the ability to treat complex arrhythmia like atrial fibrillation, has driven up the price of the systems, said Kevin Lee, senior analyst for ECRI's SELECTplus procurement advisory service.
A base system costs about $175,000 on average, Lee said, but additional software and configuration could drive the cost for a device over $500,000, Lee said. Only about 10% to 15% of hospitals have an EP lab because of the significant capital costs associated with them. Consumable costs are even higher and require heavy patient demand, he said, noting that they're normally found in hospitals that have prominent cardiovascular departments.
Vendors are adding more functionality to cardiac mapping systems because they want them for more complex procedures, Lee said. For example, a few vendors last year introduced new foresensing technology to help physicians determine whether there's enough contact between the catheter and the tissue they are attempting to inflate.
Lee also said that there are increasingly other types of equipment that are communicating with cardiac mapping systems, such as ventricular assist devices or cardiac monitors.
The major manufacturers of cardiac mapping systems are Marlborough, Mass.-based Boston Scientific; St. Paul, Minn.-based St. Jude Medical; Menlo Park, Calif-based Topera, a part of Abbott Laboratories; and Johnson & Johnson's Biosense Webster, which is based in South Diamond Bar, Calif.