Professionals who attended the Planning, Building and Operating Successful Proton Therapy Centers conference, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, in February, received key learning from leaders at the company that has developed and equipped more proton therapy centers than any other.
Yves Jongen, IBA Founder (Ion Beam Applications) and Chief Research Officer delivered presentations outlining the challenges and rewards inherent in shepherding a proton therapy center project from ground breaking to treating patients. Jongen’s presentation detailed development of proton therapy for clinical use and included snapshots of proton therapy system manufacturers. He provided the following insights:
- Designing a reliable, user-friendly proton therapy system is a lengthy process, with the typical development cycle spanning seven years.
- Achieving a viable design, then going from a single prototype to industrial production of proton therapy systems and all they entail is an enormous challenge. Very few companies have demonstrated the ability to install several proton therapy systems simultaneously.
- The quality of maintenance and operation, as well as a continuous improvement program, are just as important as the initial system design and installation.
- Finding a knowledgeable, experienced partner to help secure successful financing is crucial.
A number of developers and academic medical centers have spent millions of dollars trying to develop particle therapy projects and have failed. It’s important to have champions on the clinical side and at the executive level who are absolutely committed to achieving success.
Financing proton therapy centers in the United States is more difficult than in other areas of the world, where traditional project finance are more common and easier to navigate. In the United States, teams who want to build proton therapy centers must think creatively. Many are looking to construction or development division partners for lending, rather than to traditional banks.