Magnetic Resonance Imaging Market Overview
Several attributes of X-ray imaging have limited its use over the years, specifically patient exposure to radiation and imaging-related issues such as poor resolution, depth, and contrast. However, the advent of next-generation imaging technologies has changed all that. The ability to achieve millimeter or even sub-millimeter spatial resolution with new X-ray computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners has accelerated the use of non-invasive imaging and opened the door to a broad set of advanced applications. Nuclear imaging, particularly positron emission tomography (PET), has significantly progressed as well. While PET and CT are quickly becoming a critical component of clinical diagnoses, they are limited by image artifacts related to the scanning pattern: CT and PET images are acquired sequentially, rather than simultaneously, which means that artifacts can be caused by intra- and inter-scan patient and organ motion as well as differences between the breathing protocols used in PET and CT. These artifacts can severely impact the accuracy of the scanner and its attenuation correction, seriously compromising the imaging capability. MRI does not have these problems, and provides a large variety of protocols that selectively enhance contrast and thus provide enhanced visual discrimination among different tissues in vivo, and which can be utilized for dynamic contrast-enhanced imaging, diffusion imaging, functional MRI, and other purposes. Most importantly, MRI is also capable of spectroscopy for detection of organ-specific abnormalities. With significant advances in the MRI field, devices are more powerful and accurate than ever.
Increased utility and ever-rising desirability will drive the global MRI systems market to grow from $3.7 billion in 2012 to over $9.2 billion by 2020, increasing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.8% during the forecast period.
There are a number of key drivers for the adoption of MRI systems globally, including:
- Rising prevalence of diseases
- Increased demand for cost-effective and quality healthcare
- Novel technologies driving innovation
- Increased awareness of radiation dosage
- Open and partial MRI systems to drive further adoption, especially for claustrophobic patients
- Expanding use of MRI techniques by non-radiologists
- Steady reimbursement and other government funding
- Ever-growing global population
Despite increasing adoption, MRI system sales still face many market barriers, such as:
- US medical device excise tax
- Limited availability of venture capital
- Reduced hospital budgets
- Increasing prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases
- Ever-present competition from CT systems
- Shortage of dedicated MRI technologists
- High initial cost of capital equipment
- Lack of long-term data on use of MRI in patients
Regardless of market obstacles, Publisher expects steady growth in the MRI systems market, which is still in its infancy in many countries. Continued growth in this sector will be fueled by continual design developments, cost reductions, reimbursement improvements, and technology adoption in emerging markets.
Emerging Markets to Fuel New System Adoption
Emerging economies such as China and India are expected to continue to provide opportunities for revenue growth in the global MRI market. According to Publisher estimates, the Indian and Chinese markets accounted for 3.6% and 16.5% of global MRI systems revenue in 2012, respectively; this share is expected to increase further during the forecast period as physician adoption increases, reimbursement improves, and prices decline.
New sales growth in these emerging regions is expected to be fueled by the rapid uptake of less-expensive MRI systems that will allow access to healthcare in more remote areas of these price-sensitive economies. With increases in average income, growing demand for healthcare, and higher standards for care, these emerging markets are expected to see a rise in MRI procedures, as these systems offer safe and valuable insight into patient conditions and are a powerful decision-making tool for physicians.
Future Market Growth
The recent economic downturn has had a continued effect on MRI system sales, especially because competing technologies are cheaper and in many cases offer equal imaging quality and resolution. However, despite competition from other diagnostic devices, MRI systems have experienced continued adoption as cost-effectiveness improves and innovation drives technology improvements. The market growth for MRI systems in the US and EU is heavily dependent on the replacement of existing systems that are nearing the end of their lifetime. As such, the capacity for new installations in developed countries is limited, and as world economies recover, it can be expected that equipment replacement rates will increase in the future.
Despite the need for replacements, hospitals do not always decommission MRI systems at the end of the product’s manufacturer-recommended lifecycle, which negatively affects the sales of systems in these developed markets as companies forgo new system purchases. Additionally, a “trickling down” of MRI system features negatively impacts sales in developed countries: older high-end systems are sometimes replaced with low-end or mid-range systems, sacrificing features for cost savings. Finally, newer systems are expected to cost less, reducing the profit margins of manufacturers in this space. As a result, the MRI market is expected to be highly competitive.
Changes to reimbursement, the increasing aging population, rising prevalence of disease, and the escalating need for advanced imaging systems will act as major drivers for continued growth in the MRI market. Despite cost-containment measures implemented by healthcare authorities, the safety and efficacy of MRI techniques will continue to drive new sales in developed and emerging markets.
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