Do you want to start a 3D 4D ultrasound business? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to start a 3D 4D ultrasound business with no money and no experience. 3D and 4D imaging which are ultrasound video imaging is an important process in monitoring baby development. It can track a new-born’s growth or check for certain medical conditions. Physicians rely on diagnostic medical sonographers to provide accurate new born imaging.
Although 3D and 4D imaging can be jointly run in the same location, they may require different expertise. First let’s talk about the 3D ultrasound. As the sonographer is performing an ultrasound, they are saving images to print or save to a CD in jpeg format.
Once the ultrasound session is finished, the images will be downloaded onto a CD so the client can print from a computer or through a photo department in a store such as Costco or Walmart. They can also download them to their computer to share with friends and family on social media. But a 4d ultrasound is the movement or video part of the ultrasound.
So if the client chooses a session that comes with a DVD, it is recorded live during the ultrasound session. That means that every movement the baby makes during the session, like yawn, a stretch, a thumbs up, a wave or summersault, all will be captured on the DVD for the client to view over and over.
19 Steps to Starting a 3D 4D Ultrasound Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
According to reports, the ultrasound market is expected to reach USD 8.4 billion by 2023 from USD 6.3 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 5.9 percent during the forecast period.
Factors like the growing prevalence of target diseases, increase patient preference for minimally invasive procedures, technological advancements, increasing number of diagnostic centres & hospitals, and growing public and private investments, funding, and grants are driving the growth of the market during the forecast period.
Accordingly, based on technology, the market is segmented into diagnostic ultrasound (2D, 3D & 4D, and Doppler ultrasound) and therapeutic ultrasound (focused ultrasound and shockwave lithotripsy). The diagnostic ultrasound segment is projected to account for the bigger share of the market in 2018.
The large share of this segment can be attributed to the significant usage of 2D ultrasound in women’s health, availability of medical reimbursements for diagnostic ultrasound procedures in mature markets, ongoing technological advancements in the field of diagnostic ultrasound imaging, and the growing applications of emerging ultrasound techniques.
But based on system portability, the market is segmented into trolley/cart-based ultrasound systems, compact/handheld ultrasound systems, and point-of-care ultrasound systems. The trolley/cart-based ultrasound systems segment is projected to account for the biggest share of the market.
The big share of this segment is attributed to the growing adoption of these systems across major markets due to their increased usage in acute care settings and emergency care in hospitals and healthcare institutions.
In terms of application, the global ultrasound industry is segmented into radiology/general imaging, obstetrics/gynaecology, cardiologic applications, vascular applications, urological applications, orthopaedic & musculoskeletal applications, pain management, and other applications. The radiology/general imaging applications segment is projected to command the biggest share of the market.
Factors such as the rising incidence of various cancers across major countries, technological advancements in the field of ultrasound-based diagnosis and treatment, growing market availability and physician preference for HIFU in cancer treatment, increasing usage of ultrasound in cancer diagnosis and tissue biopsy, and the rising adoption of focused ultrasound in disease therapies are driving the growth of the radiology/general imaging segment.
In terms of end user, the market is segmented into hospitals, surgical centres, and diagnostic centres; maternity centres; ambulatory care centres; research and academia; and other end users. The hospitals, surgical centres, and diagnostic centres segment is expected to account for the largest share of the market in 2018.
The biggest share of this segment can be attributed to factors such as a significant number of ultrasound-based medical procedures performed in hospitals, coupled with the growing number of hospitals across major markets, and rising adoption of minimally invasive diagnostic & surgical procedures in these facilities.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
In order to start and run any successful business, you are going to need customers. As a medical service provider, you need to reach out to private medical practices. They are going to be the bulk of your clientele. You can also connect with medical professionals through local events or seminars.
Advertising is a must, as well. Create brochures and fliers using office paper for your ultrasound practice. Hand out business cards and look for space in newspapers or magazines for ads. Once you get the word out about your business, you will have successfully started your ultrasound video imaging business. I can assure you that the pregnancy business is ever growing and with your ultrasound business plan in place, you can be successful.
The average age of first time mothers has increased, which means that by the time the average Mom is having a family, they have more disposable income! According to industry data, in 2018 there were over 3.7 million births in the united states. Fondly, the most positive experience in 3/4D Ultrasound is seeing families happy on a daily basis.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Without doubt 3D/4D Imaging is one of those special applications that connect between technology and business. In the business world, you need to deal with a lot of issues when starting or venturing into a particular lane. You have to take care of exciting topics like following a budget, finding and exploiting niche markets, and creating a scalable organizational structure.
Due to extensive research, we’ve noted that this is often where ultrasound businesses run into problems. Choosing a significant market area where you can set yourself apart from your competition is the lifeline to not falling prey to the generalist customer.
We strongly advise that you start with the areas where you know something—your own special interests. We believe that the more passionate you are, the higher your likelihood of success. Below are few niches to consider in this business;
- HIFU (High Intensity Frequency Ultrasound)
- Male Reproductive System
- Sports Injuries
- Female Reproductive Systems
- Core Ultrasound
- Musculoskeletal System
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The healthcare sector has been a business standout, with consistent growth across the board over the past few years. Within the industry, medical imaging and diagnostic medical sonography have been a popular business choice for the relatively short educational and training period, paired with strong demand growth and earning potential. For these reasons and more, ultrasound businesses are in high demand.
We’ve been hearing for some time that the healthcare industry is on the rise for various reasons, from the aging baby boomer generation to advancements in health-related technology. Reports suggest that 2022 could be even better than 2019 for healthcare related businesses. Advances in imaging technology are leading facilities to increase the utilization of ultrasound and other similar tests as they are often less expensive and invasive than traditional methodologies.
Use of ultrasound specifically is growing, as it can be used for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. While ultrasound may be better known for its diagnostic functions (such as in pregnancy), its therapeutic capabilities predates its imaging capacities.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- Analogic Corporation
- FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation
- Carestream Health
- Canon Medical Systems Corporation
- Mobisante, Inc.
The rise in the birth rate in countries such as Russia and Germany according to experts will boost market demand in the coming years. Diagnostic ultrasound has the ability to detect anomalies in babies inside the womb.
Doppler ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to measure the amount of blood flow in patient’s arteries and veins. It has a hand-held scanner connected to a computer. The procedure is non-invasive, painless, does not use radiation, and there are no risks known as of yet.
Coupled with these benefits and easiness, mobile devices are being rapidly adopted in developing nations owing to the rising demand for ambulatory care. The demands for handheld ultrasound devices are high in the developed region, such as the U.S.; there is a rising demand for mobile ultrasound devices. The growing trend of ambulatory care is driving the demand for this device.
Meanwhile the growing incidence of obesity, unhealthy food consumption, and stressed lifestyle increase the odds of a cardiac related issue. Increase in investment in healthcare and support via healthcare insurance from government are encouraging people to go for check-ups and lead a healthy lifestyle.
According to reports, hospitals dominated the market for ultrasound. Rise in minimally invasive surgical and diagnostic procedures and growing number of hospitals are propelling the segment demand. Large numbers of ultrasound procedures are done in the hospitals only.
The massive growth of the market in North America is attributed to the growing prevalence of chronic ailments along with rising awareness among people related to early disease diagnosis. The availability of advanced technologies and healthcare facilities will surge the demand for the market product in the coming years.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Notably, there are many franchise opportunities in the industry, and this may be a good idea for some, but not all people starting a 3D/4D ultrasound business. If you’ve never run a business before, franchising can occasionally be worth the additional cost simply for the time and heartache.
A good franchisor will save you by allowing you to learn from mistakes others have made before you. Franchise fees generally run about $25,000 which sounds like a lot, but if you amortize those costs against the length of time you plan to be in business for, (hopefully 20 years or more) it is very possible you will more than recoup that amount with the additional money you will make by following a plan that has already been shown to work.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
One of the interesting parts about this industry is the wide attraction it has to all types of people. A lot of people which include pregnant women, athletes, baby boomers and even husbands around the world have seen the wonders of the 3D/4D industry and are considering diving into the business.
But a lot of people do not understand what it takes and how to get started in the industry. The very first pitfall in diving into the business is hoping you can just get an ultrasound machine and start dealing. It takes good practice and experience to be able to grow this business.
While 3D ultrasound isn’t a terribly expensive business to get into, you have to know how to operate an ultrasound machine. This, however, can be accomplished in 4-5 days. The second pitfall when planning to start this business is purchasing a startup package without knowing about the 3D/4D business.
It can’t be denied that a lot of 3D/4D businesses started this way. But you should also know that most of those startup kits end up lying dormant in storage without being remembered.
You need to have unique skills and knowledge that cannot be learned overnight but gradually. You should also know that there are many different facets to 3D/4D and each particular result may require certain knowledge in order to print correctly. Another factor to reason will be your possible competitions.
This relates to how many other businesses you are going to be competing against, and how strong they are. If you sell something that is easily purchased online, for example, you’ve got significant rivalry, but in 3D/4D ultrasound you’re only going to be competing with businesses within driving distance of your customers.
In most markets, you will have at most 3-5 competitors within reasonable driving distance. With that being said, the business is still pretty much under the radar, but the fact that just about anyone can start an ultrasound business with a small amount of capital means that at some point you may face some competition.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When starting your 3D/4D and choosing a legal structure, you have to understand that you have two options- sole proprietorship and the LLC. But have it in mind that the legal structure you choose out of the two should be based on the size and scale of the business.
Since your business is all about the income and interest of your clients, the LLC is the best legal entity for your business be it small, medium or large. It’s important to state that the advantage of creating an LLC typically outweighs any perceived disadvantages.
- Protected assets
- Heightened credibility
- Limited compliance requirements
- Flexible management structure
- Few restrictions
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- Time Zone
- Clear Future
- Happiness Slide
- 3D Glow
- Perfect Shot
- Octopus Click
- Pure Interior
- Exact Result
- 4D Experts
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
As a 3D/4D business owner, you need to be aware of certain business risks, such as employees getting a repetitive motion injury or customers slipping from the table. It’s strongly advisable that you protect these and other business risks; you should obtain ultrasound insurance from a reliable insurance company. Insurance you will need may include;
- General Liability Insurance
- Property insurance
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance
- Umbrella insurance
- Workers’ Compensation
- Crime insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you plan venturing into this business, then you should consider going for intellectual property protection to be able to protect your intellectual property. Indeed you might think it’s not important for your business, but note that Filing for intellectual property protection for your 3D/4D business goes beyond protecting your company’s logo and other documents, but also protecting your investments, ideas, style, and of course the name of your company.
If you want to file for intellectual property protection and also register your trademark in the United States, you have to start by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Although no state requires ultrasound technician certification, getting your certification can be a smart move. Certification provides an independent, objective measure of an individual’s professional standing, particularly in specialty areas such as abdomen, breast, obstetrics and gynaecology, and cardiac sonography. In fact, most diagnostic imaging workers have at least one certification.
- Advanced Cardiac Sonographer
- Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer
- Registered Cardiac Sonographer
- Registered Phlebology Sonographer
- Registered Vascular Specialist
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- Articles of Organization
- LLC operating agreement
- Business license
- Business plan
We advise that you register yourself as a small business, and check with your Secretary of State about any licenses or registrations you need to have. The regulations are different in every state.
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
The most important business cost you’ll have is your equipment. Some new business owners rent equipment, and that can be a great option to “test the waters” or if your situation is so bad financially that nobody will provide equipment financing.
The downside to renting is that decent equipment will cost you much more than payments on a machine loan or lease, and you’re not building any “equity” in that equipment. Since most new business owners don’t want to use their cash for the equipment, many do a loan or equipment lease. Ways of financing your 3D/4D business may include
- Personal savings
- angel investor
- Bank overdraft
- Venture Capital
- Loans forms family and friends
- Loans and grants
- Alternative funding source like Crowdfunding
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
As someone trying to start a successful 3D/4D business, you must have noted or have noticed other 3D/4D businesses in your proposed location. They can be spotted and noticed easily because it is hard to come across a business area that does not have 3D/4D business.
Which is why you should ask yourself: why do they choose these locations? Indeed they have done their research. It’s important to state that most 3D/4D businesses choose their locations using population density, average adjusted gross income (AGI) in that surrounding area, and proximity to their target market.
We advise that you leverage the same factors when choosing locations for your 3D/4D business. We also advice that you know the specific area you are considering very well. At least having or understanding how many people have access to that location, what income level they belong to, demographic and psychographic, and likely competition.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The decision process required to buy an ultrasound machine includes a range of factors. Cost is important, of course, but there are other key considerations. Like most medical equipment, ultrasound machines can become complicated quickly. Choosing the right one is important to not just your budget, but also your clinical workflow and quality of care. It’s important to do your homework and research all your options before you buy an ultrasound machine.
All ultrasound machines use high-frequency sound waves to create an internal image of structures within the body, such as tissue and organs. While the concept remains constant, the precise uses of an ultrasound machine vary quite a bit.
Ultrasound technology is a powerful diagnostic tool with widespread applications, so it’s important to consider your intended use for the machine before buying. Ultrasound machines also come in portable and console versions, so you should also think about mobility when doing your research. This is where it’s important to think about clinical workflows:
What type of machine would help your healthcare providers provide the best possible quality of care? Some environments would do well with a console system, while others require the mobility a portable ultrasound machine affords. For those in need of extreme mobility, there are even handheld ultrasound machines.
Leasing an ultrasound machine could be a more cost-effective option than sinking $5,000 to $100,000 into a device. Ultrasound machines can get expensive quickly and are depreciating assets.
Rather than shelling out a large amount of money for a machine that will be obsolete soon enough, it might be worth finding a device available for lease for a few hundred dollars per month. Refurbished ultrasound machines are a more cost-effective option and often work reliably well. When crafting your budget, you should consider purchasing a refurbished device.
Even if you decide you’d like to purchase a new device, requesting pricing for refurbished machines can give you an important point of leverage through the negotiation process by demonstrating to vendors that you’re willing to hunt for a bargain. If they think you’re prepared to buy a refurbished machine instead, they might be willing to drop the price on a new machine to make a sale.
Meanwhile, many ultrasound machines require installation or training for staff members. These represent additional costs on top of the price of the machine itself. It could run you up to $6,000 depending on the device, so be sure to work those numbers into your budget as well.
Ultrasound imaging works by using sound waves to produce pictures of internal structures, a process known as sonography. A transducer is used to send waves into the body and receive those that bounce back, thereby producing the image.
The software that is installed on your machine can change its capabilities. For instance, some applications can add elements like skeletal rendering or contrast resolution to the image. Others include analytical tools that can help providers identify patterns within an image.
There’s a wide range of applications available, so examine software against your list of needs to see if any must-haves are available. Of course, you’ll also want software that is user-friendly, reliable and compatible with your machine. The transducer, or probe, is a key part of ultrasound imaging.
There is a wide range of probes available because each part of the body demands a different type. Linear transducers, for instance, are used for things like vascular examinations and measuring body fat. Convex transducers, on the other hand, are suitable for diagnosis of organs and abdominal examinations. There are also phased array transducers, pencil transducers, endocavitary transducers and more.
Service contracts can add an extra and repetitive cost to owning an ultrasound machine. For some, it might be a necessary expense, while for others it could be wasted money. It’s important to assess the device’s condition and history, as well as any service contract that comes along with it.
If you’re going to be stuck in a pricey service contract on a brand-new, reliable machine, you might want to consider other options. On the other hand, if you’re considering a refurbished machine with an unknown history, a service contract could be protection against device failure.
The Services Delivery Process of the Business
Purchasing a machine that matches the clinical workflow of your medical practice or hospital is the most important part of your service process. While it’s tempting to buy the shiniest, newest model with all the bells and whistles, you might be better served by a reliable machine that meshes nicely with your needs and preferences.
Be sure to include all providers and staff who will be working with the machine in your decision if possible, because the more seamless the integration of new technology is in your medical environment, the better the quality of care you can provide.
Balancing each of these factors is critical to making the right choice. The decision-making process will look different for every medical practice or hospital, because it is based around a unique set of requirements and workflows. Also, it’s very necessary you consider your supplier and buyer power.
The supplier power relates to how much “leverage” your suppliers have over you, or their pricing power. The only major material you need in the ultrasound business is an ultrasound machine, and there is a huge market for both new and used machines, so suppliers have very little power.
While the buyer power is the sort of power buyers have to negotiate better prices with you. Once someone is in your office for the $59 or $69 special and you show them the list of add-ons, how many husbands can make the case to their expectant wife about to see her child for the first time that they really don’t need to spend the $150 for a DVD and a teddy bear with a heartbeat?
Secondly, if the customers are in your office and have already committed to your appointment, are they really going to go across town to find out if the “platinum” package is $10 cheaper somewhere else? Not likely. So, it’s very crucial you consider your clinical workflow, supplier and buyer power when analysing your service process
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Getting customers in the door is the single most important thing that will determine your success or failure, and it’s one of the things many business owners know the least about. If you’re buying a franchise, the franchisor company may be able to give you a “ready-made” advertising plan that has been proven to work, but it’s always good to know your options regardless.
For every ultrasound medical imaging business winner, they are multiple ultrasound medical imaging businesses struggling to survive. Customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be. With cost concerns becoming more important to buyers, value messaging is rising to the fore as a strategic marketing priority.
Grow Customer Loyalty
Experienced entrepreneurs target customer loyalty as a cornerstone of strategic planning. In ultrasound imaging businesses, sorted and updated mailing lists obtained from top-tier providers are effective tools for customer acquisition.
To encourage customer loyalty, you’ll need to tap into deliberate mechanisms that incentivize customers to reward your brand with repeat business. In many cases, online channels can be leveraged to create innovative customer loyalty programs.
Issuing responsibility for the execution of a marketing strategy can be more difficult than creating it. For some business owners, in-house staffing is attractive because it can (theoretically) be performed by current employees and can give the owner more control over the process.
To maintain marketing momentum, many ultrasound imaging businesses enlist the assistance of external marketing professionals. In addition to delivering a better overall outcome, marketing firms bring an objective perspective to your strategy and key messaging.
Today’s leading ultrasound medical imaging businesses continue to find ways to attract audiences to their brand through broadcast media. It’s critical to understand the limits and opportunities available in today’s broadcast advertising industry.
One area in which marketers continue to have success is during drive times when large numbers of listeners still tune-in to local radio. When marketing ultrasound medical imaging businesses, a combination of marketing venues is preferable to relying exclusively on local broadcast opportunities.
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
This industry is filled with fierce competitions. It’s advisable you start familiarizing yourself with the field. But note that as much as the 3D/4D industry is becoming competitive, you as an outstanding entrepreneur should also deduce a means of outshining your competitors. These means may include…
- Researching and identify your competitors
- Join professional organizations
- Keep your customers happy and satisfied
- Work with a graphic designer to create a website
18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
In the ultrasound industry, a lot of businesses offer similar products or services at comparable prices. Then what really drives customers to one business over another? We believe that the customer experience plays a big part in that decision. In fact, 55 percent of American business owners believe that customer service plays a vital role in differentiating one business from another. So to retain your customers in the 3D/4D business, you need to
- Call your customers by name
- Keep your work simple
- Create a customer service culture
- Stay connected after the job
- Be who you are
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
It’s important to state that having just a brand alone is not enough in the ultrasound industry. Have it in mind that to win over customers you need to make sure you shout about your brand and get your name into people’s eyes as well as their hearts. You can do that by doing the following;
Pay for Listings on the Search Engines
One of the most effective ways to boost your brand is simply to have your company show up in results when someone is searching for your service.
The amount of search volume and cost of keywords will vary tremendously depending on what area you target, but the average number of searches reported by Google for keywords related to ultrasound services is around 1,300 monthly per 1 million population in your area, and cost per click can be as low as $.30 if you don’t need to be at the very, very top.
Get “Found” On the Internet for Free
If you speak to many business owners, they will tell you this is impossible, but the truth is they just didn’t find the right resource. It just so happens that there is selected few that know how to do this better than anyone else on the planet.
Getting yourself found on Google is a long process that takes some work, but nothing beats free traffic that found you by doing an online search. Also, you may want to get yourself listed on some of the better online directories such as Directory World or Dmoz.
Direct Mail to New Parents
Direct mail can be expensive, but it’s hard to beat getting in front of an expectant mother at exactly the time she is ready to look for your services.
Guerrilla Marketing Tactics
There are a lot of creative ways to build your business that won’t cost you very much. One idea for your marketplace is get a list of all the OB/GYN’s in your area and offer a free appointment to patients for a short period of time (think of it like an open house or a grand opening) and ask all the patients to share their experience with your company on Facebook or Twitter or whatever social media outlet they are using.