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Radiation Therapy 2019 Radiation Therapy 2019
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Radiation Therapy 2019
Relationships a Key Driver of Value

author - Monique Rasband
Monique Rasband
author - Emily Paxman
Emily Paxman
June 6, 2019 | Read Time: 5  minutes

The purchase of radiation therapy equipment is a large—and often long-term—investment, and while the vendors are few, the stakes are high. To be able to provide effective treatments and attract patients (who are more mobile and more involved in their care than ever), organizations need accurate, reliable technology backed by stellar vendor support. This report will help organizations determine which vendor will give them the best value by examining (1) customer loyalty and long-term plans; (2) relationships and support; and (3) ease of use and integration.

customers consistently iconCustomers Consistently Derive Value with Elekta
and Varian

The value customers get from the Elekta Versa HD and Varian TrueBeam stems in large part from the vendors’ strong customer relationships (discussed in more detail on page 2) and the versatility of the equipment to be used for a broad span of treatment types, from bread-and-butter therapies to more complex cases. Both also have the option to add stereotactic functionality. Some TrueBeam customers also find value in the fact that Varian offers an entire suite of radiation oncology products. Elekta’s Leksell Gamma Knife Icon customers also report strong relationships and say the equipment stands out for its specialized focus on brain as well as head and neck therapies. For both Elekta and Varian, customer perceptions of high value drive customer loyalty and market considerations.

value customer reported areas of strength

25 percent icon25% of Accuray Customers Don't See Value, Driving Lowest Industry Loyalty

loyaltyAccuray’s CyberKnife and TomoTherapy customers report significantly lower value than Elekta and Varian customers, a factor that contributes to Accuray seeing the lowest levels of customer loyalty. As will be discussed in further detail below, perceptions of low value stem primarily from the machines’ siloed, time-consuming treatment planning and from issues caused by Accuray’s support structure. CyberKnife customers are the most likely to leave; most cite outdated technology as the main driver. On a positive note, CyberKnife and TomoTherapy users highlight their equipment’s effectiveness for prostate treatments. They are the only customer bases to do so.

varian relationships iconVarian Relationships Continue to Improve, Earning the Vendor a Second Chance with Former Customers

Customer perceptions of value are strongly impacted by various strategic aspects of the vendor relationship, such as executive involvement and proactive service. Varian is the strongest fully rated performer in these areas, a significant turnaround from their historical reputation as a difficult vendor to work with. The change in culture has persuaded some organizations to give the vendor another chance and has given Varian a leg up in recent considerations. For most Elekta customers, the relationship is an even greater contributor to satisfaction than the vendor’s technology. Customers are pleased with the team they interact with—including the vendor executives—highlighting qualities such as professionalism and strong product and market knowledge. One COO specifically described the vendor as a partner.

overall performance vs strategic relationship

newer tomotherapy iconNewer TomoTherapy Versions See Less Downtime; Accuray Field Support Still Spread Thin

Downtime can be highly detrimental, both to patients—who must postpone crucial treatment—and to providers—who must fit patients into already busy schedules. For Accuray’s CyberKnife and TomoTherapy customers, extended downtime is an ongoing challenge. The vendor’s field support is spread thin, and parts are tightly controlled. Customers on newer versions of the TomoTherapy report fewer issues; they need field support less often due to higher product reliability and receive a quick response when they do. Customers of market share leader Varian are the most satisfied with their ongoing support. However, while some report high uptime (as much as 99.9%), a few report that they frequently experience significant issues. Regardless of their uptime, Varian customers feel the support personnel are proactive and quick to respond. Elekta customers describe their field support as experienced, reliable, and easy to work with. They are the least likely to report downtime concerns.

quality of ongoing support

varian customers iconVarian Customers Satisfied with Integration; Accuray Customers Isolated by Siloed Treatment Planning

Varian customers highlight the workflow as straightforward and easy to understand, and multiple customers describe the equipment as stable. Integration with treatment-planning software is strong, allowing users to quickly move patients from one machine to another when needed. Some customers mention varying technology concerns. Treatment-planning software is built into the Elekta Leksell Gamma Knife Icon, making the integration fairly seamless. Customers do report that the high accuracy of the Icon requires cumbersome planning, but they are optimistic Elekta will make planning easier in the future. Elekta’s Versa HD customers emphasize the machine’s reliability and ease of use, describing it as a workhorse. A small handful identify opportunities for integration improvements. In contrast, treatment planning issues are a frequent pain point for Accuray CyberKnife and TomoTherapy customers; users describe the process as time consuming and siloed, making it difficult to transfer patients to other machines if the scheduled unit goes down. As reported by customers, benefits of the machine include that it allows users to treat patients from various angles.

ease of use vs supports integration goals

philips treatment iconPhilips' Treatment Planning Weaker for Integration, Weakest When Paired with Varian Equipment

oncology treatment planning integration experience by radiation therapy vendoremerging radiation therapy technologyRadiation therapy equipment, specifically linear accelerators, must be used in conjunction with treatment-planning software. Varian's treatment-planning solution has been Best in KLAS for over five years. Customers report that Varian’s service—a key differentiator—goes beyond strong ongoing support—customers describe proactive advocates who work to meet their unique needs and service engineers who reach out on their own to identify potential problems. Philips’ software performs poorly overall; while the support generally meets customers’ needs, a lack of proactivity leads to integration issues (since proactive service and communication are key to achieving seamless integration). This is a particular challenge for organizations that combine Philips’ software with Varian’s equipment; they report that Philips tries to gain a competitive edge by poorly communicating about new upgrades and making it difficult for information to flow. KLAS has validated other treatment-planning technologies from vendors such as Elekta (not widely used) and RaySearch (used mostly in research settings).

author - Elizabeth Pew
Elizabeth Pew
author - Jess Wallace-Simpson
Jess Wallace-Simpson
author - Sydney Toomer
Project Manager
Sydney Toomer
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This material is copyrighted. Any organization gaining unauthorized access to this report will be liable to compensate KLAS for the full retail price. Please see the KLAS DATA USE POLICY for information regarding use of this report. © 2024 KLAS Research, LLC. All Rights Reserved. NOTE: Performance scores may change significantly when including newly interviewed provider organizations, especially when added to a smaller sample size like in emerging markets with a small number of live clients. The findings presented are not meant to be conclusive data for an entire client base.