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Anticipating higher utilization, demand for ultrasound among rad departments rising: IMV survey

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 29, 2023
Ultrasound is predicted in the next few years to be used in procedures traditionally performed with other imaging modalities.
Over the next three years, radiology departments are planning to stock up their inventories with more ultrasound systems, predicting that these modalities will be used more in procedures that have traditionally been performed with other types of scanners.

According to IMV’s 2023 Ultrasound Market Summary Report, which was compiled based on surveys completed by 204 radiology and department administrators and clinicians, general ultrasound patient exams dropped 2.3% between 2019 and 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet, 32% of sites indicated that they planned on purchasing at least one type between now and 2026, and another 29% said they are "tentatively planning" to purchase at least one.
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Among the reasons why was the anticipation of certain procedure volumes shifting from other imaging modalities to ultrasound, with 48% rating this statement as a 4 or 5 out of 5; and current ultrasound technology meeting department clinical and throughput needs, (66%). Demand is more pronounced in large hospitals with over 300 beds, driven by overall exam volumes and sites finding more uses for ultrasound, according to the report authors.

"In terms of exam types, abdominal, breast, and vascular exams are getting a lot of attention. We are also seeing increased usage in emergency departments," Davin Korstjens, Sr. program manager of Market Research – IMV, a Science and Medicine Group Company, told HCB News.

About 68% of sites said they have one type, either a cart-based, tablet/laptop or handheld system; while 28% said they have two, and 4% have all three. The most popular are cart-based systems, owned by 85%; followed by 11% for tablet/laptop, and 4% for handheld. This aligns with utilization rates for these different types, with 95% of exams performed with cart-based; 5% with tablet/laptop; and less than 1% with handheld.

GE Healthcare’s cart-based systems are the most popular of any manufacturer, with 56% owning at least one. Philips’ systems are a second favorite, owned by 37%, followed by Siemens at 18%, Canon Medical Components USA at 15%, and Samsung Electronics at 5%.

Additionally, there are 4.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) sonographers performing ultrasound exams per site, according to the survey.

In a recent op-ed for HCB News, Rachel Stolpa, RDMS for symplr, said that a Markets and Markets report indicated that the global ultrasound market had an estimated worth of $6.7 billion in revenue in 2021, which is expected to grow to $9 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 6.3%. Reasons included the speed and affordability of ultrasound, as well as it being safer than other imaging technologies for not using radiation or magnetic fields.

And while the IMV survey said that handheld systems were least popular among users, Stolpa says these solutions have increased in usage significantly due to COVID-19, their efficacy in treating critical care patients, and their extreme portability. She also said that handheld systems are predicted to grow the fastest, fueled by trends in home healthcare and remote patient monitoring.

According to Korstjens, it is important to have effective technology leadership involved in purchasing decisions for ultrasound to ensure the system meets the department's needs, provides quality care, and is easy to use.

"Planning for the future is also critical; ensuring that the systems that sites are purchasing now have the confidence of clinicians to be used for additional exam types, or in additional settings in the future, is key," he said.

The IMV report is based on responses to its nationwide survey from February 2023 to April 2023. It was published in July.

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