By Mustafa Hassan
The ultrasound market is going through one of the most exciting and innovative periods in its history.
The handheld ultrasound market is still maturing, there are many new technologies being developed, such as ultrasound patches and wearable transducers, opening new avenues for diagnostic use. Elsewhere, compact systems are becoming larger and more technically capable, and there is a wider range of cart systems available, both at more flexible price points for customers and offering more portability. Combined with growing use of AI technology to support image acquisition and interpretation, the long-term potential for the ultrasound market appears bright.
System prices are expected to increase again in 2023
For those who need to move fast and expand clinical capabilities -- and would love new equipment -- the uCT 550 Advance offers a new fully configured 80-slice CT in up to 2 weeks with routine maintenance and parts and Software Upgrades for Life™ included.
Despite the bright outlook, the market has experienced some challenging periods lately. The supply chain issues in 2022 led to delayed lead times and price increases. Whilst price increases varied regionally, on average, prices increased by around 5-10%; in some regions, however, prices increased by as much as 20%.
Whilst supply chain issues are under control in 2023, as vendors become more flexible with their supply chains and have adapted, further price rises are expected, albeit to a lesser extent than in 2022. Typically, those vendors who did not increase prices in 2022 have had to increase them in 2023, whilst vendors who increased prices in 2022 will struggle to justify additional price rises in 2023.
Due to increased system prices, customers have reacted in one of three ways.
1. Continue to purchase as usual and pay higher prices. The release of new ultrasound systems will have masked the impact of the price rises on the market average selling price, as prices will have changed with the release of a new system. For example, the launch of the Voluson Expert 22 system in 2022 will have caused the market average selling price of women’s health systems to increase in the countries where the system was released.
2. Purchase lower-priced ultrasound systems, such as high-end ($60,000-$120,000) or midrange ($30,000-$60-000) systems instead of premium systems ($120,000+). This trend is most evident in the radiology and women’s health markets.
3. Delay purchasing and continue to use existing systems. This is becoming more prevalent in 2023, given the worsening economic climate.
Expansion of Chinese vendors
Due to the local production policy introduced by the Chinese government in May 2021, some domestic Chinese vendors gained significant share in the Chinese market in 2022, with the impact on international vendors varying, depending on how successful they have been in obtaining local production certification.