The overall economic impact of COVID-19 has been wide-ranging affecting all industries. Medical imaging is the largest driver of the diagnostic segment of the healthcare equipment market and has experienced a wide range of impact.

Overview

The overall economic impact of COVID-19 has been wide-ranging affecting all industries. Medical imaging is the largest driver of the diagnostic segment of the healthcare equipment market and has experienced a wide range of impact. Mobile digital radiography (DR) has been the chief beneficiary; as a result of a surge in demand for the diagnosis of COVID-19, the unit shipments of mobile DR systems are forecast to rise by over 80%. However; the overall medical imaging market is set decline in 2020 before returning to growth in 2021. The overall market size in 2021 will remain smaller that 2019 (Figure 1). The development and utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare has been fast tracked in 2020.

The headwinds for market during the pandemic include:

  • Budgets diverted away from non-essential equipment
  • Healthcare providers electing to extend the life of older systems
  • Major decline in procedural volume
  • Disrupted supply chains
  • Government shutdowns
  • Drop in gross domestic product (GDP)

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Deep dive by modality  

In 2019, the overall medical imaging revenue market grew by 1.5% year-over-year (YoY) but is forecast to decline by 6.6% YoY in 2020 as revenue for the majority of the medical imaging modalities decline in 2020; major decline in the MRI and Mammography markets are expected (Table 1). However; The CT and mobile DR system demand rose in 2020.

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Major trends across medical imaging modalities includes:

  • Computed tomography (CT) market growth has been largely driven by the rise in chronic illness, and its utilization in diagnosis of COVID-19 patients in Europe.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) manufacturers launched several new solutions to increase efficiency, patient throughput, and utilize automated protocols; however, procedure volume and reimbursement dropped sharply in 2020.
  • Ultrasound systems are being manufactured smaller and at lower cost and has the potential to drastically expand the presence of diagnostic imaging. COVID-19 will intensify the impact of political and economic challenges, but also the emergence and acceleration of ultrasound technology. Handheld and point-of-care (POC) ultrasound systems are expected to become more prominent as they are demonstrating their immense value by helping to address the pandemic
  • X-ray – The sharp drop in procedural volume across X-ray systems with the exception of mobile systems has caused major market decline in 2020, however as the number of COVID-19 cases slows hospital budgets will be reallocated to replace and digitalize an aged install base of equipment.

Acceleration in AI adoption

It’s clear that the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is here to stay. There is a clear indication that AI vendors are working with healthcare providers to identify practical challenges and then leverage AI to solve them. This process is crucial to successful AI adoption as the top AI use cases effectively address real world healthcare problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the development of AI software in the healthcare sector and provided further targeted investment in AI-based drug and vaccine research, medical imaging and machine learning tools for patient screening, triage, and monitoring.

Figure 2 showcases the growth in the AI software market size in healthcare by revenue; the market is set to grow by 54% CAGR during the forecast as the industry gains come not only from investments to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, but also over the medium term as the country bolsters healthcare response capabilities.

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The post-pandemic market: Trends will be rooted in the past

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends that were already evident in the medical imaging market. The pandemic will intensify the impact of political and economic challenges, but also the emergence and acceleration of diagnostic technology. Artificial intelligence and telemedicine vendors are developing solutions to help healthcare providers meet the demands of the health crisis. These solutions will likely enhance medical imaging long after the pandemic.

Omdia’s Healthcare team recently published the Medical Imaging Trends 2020 report (https://insights.omnia-health.com/reports/report-medical-imaging-trends-2020) which provides a deep dive into the market dynamics for eleven key imaging modalities: CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, interventional, C-arms, fixed and mobile general x-ray, fluoroscopy (RF), mammography, dental, veterinary, and ultrasound, with market size and forecasts from 2019-2023. The report is based on the collection of primary data from system manufacturers.