Major advancements have been made in medical imaging systems in recent decades. However, in most cases, diagnostic methods are not used until the consequences of an illness are realized. Inadequate access to healthcare services results in late diagnosis of diseases. Moreover, delays in obtaining test results can further aggravate the condition. However, in the last two decades, medical imaging industry has made significant development in terms of innovative, advanced and convenient imaging products. The new imaging machines, be it the X-rays, ultrasound, 3D mammography, PET and SPECT scanners, and MRI machines, have enabled ubiquitous access and early diagnosis of various condition. Also, macro-level details provided by these machines help clinicians make better decisions. Moreover, integration with information technology and cloud computing has allowed greater access to reports irrespective of the location, which enables patients to seek multiple opinions from experts around the world.
Molecular Imaging to help Early Detection of Disease
In the field of molecular imaging, the long-term aim is to develop methods that will make it possible to detect illnesses at an early stage and employ more specific diagnostic techniques. For example, most systems currently available can detect certain tumors and deposits in blood vessels at a very early stage. Nuclear medicine examination methods that use PET/CT and SPECT/CT scanners are the most prevalent molecular imaging techniques. Such scanners generate images of lungs, livers, and hearts with high precision, and also provide information about the organs’ metabolism and other functions.
Reducing Costs and Improving Convenience
Wide availability and increasing preference for high-end imaging equipment providing cellular details are leading to steady decline in overall health expenses. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have determined that the length of a patient’s hospital stay is reduced by one day for every US$385 spent on medical imaging equipment. Such investments could lead to savings of around US$3,000 per patient.Even hospitals can capitalize on these devices, as they are constantly under pressure to reduce costs. Such technologies are expected to be pursued by developed as well as developing economies. Besides, integrating the scanned images with the electronic health records of the patient would make the process more efficient.
Rising Demand for Advance Techniques
Demand for inexpensive, energy-saving, and ergonomic medical equipment that require little maintenance and involve less potential risk is increasing. Moreover, miniaturization and portability of the equipment, digitization of measurement values, hybrid imaging systems, and use of non-ionizing imaging modalities such as optical and ultrasound systems are factors projected to propel market growth.
Emerging Economies offering Immense Opportunity
The BRIC countries, with their booming healthcare sectors, are especially willing to introduce new medical technology.Increasing number of hospitals in developing economies offer lucrative growth opportunities for manufacturers of imaging devices. Moreover, with increasing investment by public and private players in healthcare infrastructure is in turn driving demand for advanced imaging techniques in these regions. Also, the medical tourism market is growing rapidly in these countries, owing to relatively low cost of treatment. Patients from developed world opt for treatment in countries such as India where skilled professionals and advanced techniques of therapy are available at much lower cost as compared to that in developed countries.
Early diagnosis and ubiquitous access to diagnostic services are major issues that need to be addressed by medical imaging companies.This involves constant innovation of products based on novel technologies and operational models. Integration with information technology is a key aspect for growth of medical imaging market.
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