Imaging's growth spurs ‘unprecedented’ opportunity for innovation

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The U.S. medical imaging industry is poised to transform itself from a focus on quantity and “getting bigger” to one that emphasizes quality, safety, efficiency and collaboration.

These changes will create “unprecedented” opportunities for new products and solutions, according to a new report from research firm Frost & Sullivan.

One field expected to grow significantly in radiology is cloud computing, according to Tanvir Jaikishen, senior research analyst.

“It not only eliminates the need for care providers to buy servers and other hardware, but providers can pay (for services) by the image. Also, cloud computing enables collaboration between providers through virtual meeting rooms. Cloud computing will help address the challenges of interoperability,” he says.

Other areas with the greatest growth opportunities include:

  • Creation of strategies to help small and medium-sized care providers improve workflow productivity, automate processes, offer new service lines, attract more patients and increase revenues.
  • Use of deep learning to shift away from episodic-based care to population health-based solutions.
  • Custom analytics tools for medical imaging that analyze thousands of images to improve the imaging process and the patient experience.
  • Partnerships with radiologists and regulators to develop custom quantitation and reporting tools to help radiologists report on quality metrics, enabling them to qualify for reimbursements.

Examples include teleradiology; the use of artificial intelligence for improving diagnostic accuracy, making faster diagnoses, sharing, storing and accessing images, and helping develop best practices in imaging; development of more patient-friendly products and solutions, such as tomosynthesis and cone beam technology; 3D imaging so that patients don’t have to be imaged from multiple angles; and software that helps providers collate and report data in standardized reporting formats.
Revenues from medical imaging in the U.S. totals about $100 billion each year, Jaikishen estimates. Approximately 630 million procedures occur annually, with Medicare patients accounting for 30 percent of all procedures. With 10,000 Americans qualifying for Medicare daily, this percentage share and total procedure volumes are set to increase.

Changes in radiology are not new, says Jaikishen. However, in the past they had been reactionary in response to external factors, such as reduced Medicare funding for imaging scans.

“The current transformation aims to be more revolutionary. Stakeholders across the imaging ecosystem are trying to understand current requirements and go one step further to look at future demographics and requirements in order to develop tools and technologies today for the requirements of tomorrow,” he says.

Several companies seem especially well positioned to grow in the imaging market, according to the report. Philips Healthcare is the current market leader in healthcare enterprise partnerships, with more than a billion dollars’ worth of contracts signed in the U.S. since 2013. GE Healthcare is developing tools to help radiologists improve workflow productivity. Arterys recently obtained FDA approval for a deep learning cardiovascular cloud computing tool to enhance data sharing and reduce errors.

“With reimbursements shifting from fee for service to value-based payment, imaging is going to play a pivotal role in helping providers quantitatively prove improvements in patient outcomes. For this to happen, imaging is increasingly being prioritized with the radiologist being empowered from just someone who sits in an office and interprets the image to someone who works with multi-disciplinary teams of specialists and actively plans the patient treatment plan. The end goal of the imaging transformation is to make it more integrated with the patient care process and by doing so create a streamlined approach to care that is both cost effective and efficient,” Jaikishen says.

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