The Pipeline

Managing a proton therapy center in 2013

In the third entry of our four part series, Technology Insights’ expert Chris Pericak reviews key considerations for launching and operating a proton therapy center in 2013. Miss the earlier entries? Read parts one and two now. 

Chris Pericak, Technology Insights

To be successful, proton centers must manage ongoing costs and ensure smooth operations for patients. While operations must be refined on an ongoing basis, facility design may play an important role to enhance the patient experience and improve energy efficiency.

Effective centers proactively manage costs, potential bottlenecks, patient experience

Facility design may improve throughput via patient staging areas that improve patient readiness for treatment. Moving beyond facility considerations, staff preparation and training is crucial to effectively move patients through treatment, as well as ensure that beam downtime remains minimal. 

Centers strive to obtain physicists and physicians with prior experience in proton therapy to quickly manage the inevitable challenges associated with generating and standardizing the proton beam. For other staff without prior experience, an extensive training program will be necessary. Centers often employ a dedicated 6-8 week training program before the first patient is treated.

Changing market dynamics require new strategies to garner patient referrals

As proton centers enter the market in 2013, administrators will need to adapt referral strategy to a new environment.   Changing market forces, including the proliferation of centers,  an expansion in clinical eligibility, trends in physician-hospital relationships, and healthcare reform create new marketing imperatives.


Now, centers will focus not on a largely exclusive, trans-regional marketplace, but focus much more intensely on finding patients within their own backyards, raising the need to convert exploratory self-referrals.


Amidst consolidating physician practices, proton centers will need to cultivate relationships with hospital partners rather than market mainly to physician practices.


In an accountable care environment, the marketing and branding of protons will need to focus less on the technology as a cutting-edge modality and more as an integrated treatment offering within a comprehensive hospital enterprise.

More on Proton Therapy

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