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Report: Health-Care Reform Will Boost Imaging

January 31, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Practice Management
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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called health-care reform, Obamacare, and lots of other politically charged names, will drive a 5 percent annual increase in the U.S. market for diagnostic imaging equipment over the next five years, according to Millennium Research Group (MRG).

However, MRG also forecasts a decline in the number of diagnostic imaging procedures that will continue through 2012.

MRG, of Toronto, describes itself as “the global authority on medical technology market intelligence and the leading provider of strategic information to the healthcare sector.” Its new US Markets for Diagnostic Imaging Systems 2011 report, released in December and available for a mere $5,995 ($9,000 for a corporate license), valued the 2010 U.S. diagnostic imaging system market (ultrasound, MRI, X-ray, CT, and nuclear-medicine systems) at nearly $4 billion.

Sales dipped in 2009, the report says. It blames poor economic conditions and apprehension about possible cuts in reimbursements for imaging procedures. Also in 2009, the Obama administration was considering various other ways of reducing health-care costs, some of which would have affected payments for diagnostic imaging.

Unit sales recovered slightly last year, but price decreases per unit meant that the dollar value of the overall market still declined, the report says.

“The passing of new health-care reforms in 2010 has, however, alleviated much of the uneasiness experienced in 2009 and will result in increased units being purchased in 2011,” said Isuru Silva, an MRG analyst, as quoted in an MRG news release.

“The health-care reforms will also involve the spending upward of billions toward the provision of health care for approximately 32 million uninsured U.S. citizens,” Silva continued. “This major change will not come into effect until 2014; however, rising growth rates are anticipated to occur as early as 2013 as facilities prepare for a future increase in procedure volumes, which are currently experiencing a decline that will continue until 2013. This is most notably expected to fuel unit sales growth in the CT and MRI system markets, where growth would be otherwise stable or slowing over the next five years.”

The report also predicts significant growth in the ultrasound market, especially for compact systems. And it tempers its measured optimism about the general diagnostic imaging market by noting that, overall, MRI and CT machines are operating below their capacity and that the MRI and CT markets face the possibility of further reimbursement cuts.

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