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Navigating the digital radiography market

November 17, 2021
X-Ray
From the November 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Julie Johnson

The digital radiography market remains a high-volume and very competitive segment of radiological imaging. The market is projected to reach $565.3 million in 2021 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% from 2021 to 2028. Digital radiography (DR) has long replaced computed radiography (CR) technology as the gold standard in radiological imaging. Due to the 2016 CR legislation and decrease in reimbursement, facilities rushed to purchase digital retrofits to update older CR technology. symplr has seen purchases for digital retrofits decrease considerably over the past few years and the focus has turned primarily to purchasing new DR systems.

Mobile digital X-ray systems

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Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, purchasing of mobile DR systems has increased as they play a critical role in patient screening. Due to their flexibility of being on a mobile platform, these point-of-care systems can be brought directly to the bedside when patients are not able to be transported to the radiology department. The newer generation of mobile DR systems are more lightweight and compact and are a perfect companion for ERs, ORs, and ICUs. Customer considerations when purchasing a mobile unit are maneuverability, image quality, detector configuration, and battery life. Vendors offer a broad range of digital detectors to pair with the mobile DR systems. Customers may opt to not only purchase a standard 14x17 wireless detector, but also a smaller 8x10 or 10x12 for pediatric and orthopedic imaging.

Fixed digital X-ray systems
While the market for digital retrofit purchases has slowed, interest in purchasing new fixed DR systems is in full swing. The DR market includes multiple vendors that offer a broad range of systems that can be configured to meet each facility’s specific needs and budget constraints. Many health systems also seek to partner with vendors, choosing sole source agreements to standardize their entire fleet of imaging equipment including CT, MR, catheter lab, mammography, and ultrasound. Vendors offering a wide variety of imaging technologies (e.g., GE, Philips, and Siemens) tend to see more activity in the DR market.

Patient volumes should be a consideration when purchasing a DR system. High-volume facilities often prefer fully automated systems that include advanced features such as digital tomosynthesis, stitching, and AI analytics to increase workload efficiencies. These systems typically include a 14x17 wireless detector and additional 17x17 fixed detector in the table or wall bucky. Some customers also choose to include a third 8x10 or 10x12 detector for pediatric and ortho exams. Smaller facilities, free-standing imaging centers, and clinics typically select more cost-effective single detector systems that can provide high-quality digital images at lower price points. Depending on available space and resources, customers have the option to choose ceiling- or floor-mounted configurations. Floor-mounted systems are ideal for facilities that want a high-quality system yet have limited space or do not have the budget for additional construction costs.

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