Major advancements have been made in medical imaging systems in recent times. 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 of the current available systems 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 both, developed and emerging economies. Moreover, integrating 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 requires little maintenance and involves less potential risk is increasing. Moreover, miniaturization and portability of 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 rapidly expanding healthcare industry in BRIC countries is driving demand for introduction of novel medical technology. The growing number of hospitals in emerging economies is offering lucrative growth opportunities for manufacturers of imaging devices. Moreover, increasing investment by public and private players in healthcare infrastructure is 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. Medical assistance from skilled professionals and availability of advanced treatment techniques at much lower cost in countries such as India are some of the key factors that are creating a conducive environment for growth of the medical imaging market in these regions.
Diagnosis and 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 of information technology with existing healthcare systems is a key factor that is driving the growth of the medical imaging market.