The opening of the doors to RSNA once again marks the nearing of the end of another busy year in the healthcare technology industry. 2016 has been a year of mergers and acquisitions, changing business names, changes in reimbursement, and political mayhem. Toshiba’s Medical Devices business unit was sold to Canon in March, Philips Healthcare acquired population health management company Wellcentive in July, and Pfizer sold the Hospira infusion business unit to ICU Medical in October; to name but a few of the mergers and acquisitions in 2016. Siemens Healthcare changed its name to Siemens Healthineers in May 2016, and in November, announced the spin-off of this business unit through an initial public offering (IPO). The general radiography market in 2016 has been impacted by adjustments to the US Medical Imaging Modernisation Act 2015 to provide Medicare payment incentives to transition from traditional X-ray imaging to digital X-ray systems; the adjustments cut reimbursement for analogue and computed radiography equipment in the United States. Politically, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, and in November the United States voted to elect Donald Trump as the next president; creating uncertainty in the healthcare technology market.
In the general radiography field, the key highlights of the show were the launches of a number of compact digital mobile X-ray systems and the announcement that LG Electronics USA Business Solutions will be entering the medical imaging device market, producing flat-panel detectors (FPDs).
The market for mobile digital X-ray systems is increasing globally; IHS Markit predicts market growth at a CAGR of 10% from 2015 to 2020. Demand in this market is driven by replacements of existing analogue systems with more efficient digital solutions. Digital mobile X-ray systems are beneficial because they speed up workflows as they do not require patients to be moved to the radiography suite. Because of healthcare reform, there is increased demand for mobile X-ray systems at the point of care in hospitals, and in outpatient facilities. In response to this shift in demand, a number of suppliers used RSNA to display new mobile X-ray units.
Samsung Electronics showcased its GM85 mobile X-ray system; Fujifilm Medical Systems USA highlighted a new mobile X-ray unit called FDR Aqro; and Carestream showed its DRX-Revolution Nano Mobile X-ray System. Once launched, these products will provide users with compact, light-weight mobile X-ray systems that are easy to manoeuvre and have a small footprint requiring less space – a very valuable commodity in a hospital. These streamlined mobile X-ray solutions will be focused on point-of-care applications, with storage on the ward rather than sharing with radiology suites. The designs of these compact X-ray machines mean they are well suited to the outpatient facilities to which patient care is increasingly being moved because of the cost saving benefits.
Perhaps one of the greatest surprises of RSNA was the announcement of LG entering the medical imaging market and launching new flat-panel detectors, increasing competition in this sector. The digitized X-ray detector for radiography, called LG DXD, produces images in seconds with 16-bit image processing capabilities and a pixel pitch range as small as 127 µ, according to the company. The LG DXD will be commercially available in 2017.
The number of competitors in the FPD market has increased rapidly over recent years, increasing the availability of the panel material and size. The increase in competition and the lower manufacturing costs are adding intense price pressure to the market and considerably reducing the average selling price of flat-panel detectors. As a result, FPDs are beginning to be commoditised, with the software and the systems with which they are used being taken into consideration more often by purchasers. The decline in the price of FPDs is making these products more affordable to a wider range of purchasers, increasing uptake of digital technology in radiology.
Overall, software developments dominated RSNA this year, with the theme of the show ‘Beyond Imaging’. However, hardware advances continue to play an important role in improving patient care in radiology, and in meeting the demands of healthcare providers.
For more information on the X-ray research provided by IHS Markit, please contact Jessica Edge, firstname.lastname@example.org