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Are services the key to sustained profits?February 06, 2017The decline in average selling prices of X-ray equipment is nothing new. As a technology matures, and products using it are manufactured in larger quantities, they cost less to produce. In addition, more suppliers entering the market push prices down; also, intense cost pressure from healthcare purchasers have contributed to lower average selling prices. However, this trend is continuing and intensifying with sustained limitations on healthcare budgets and restrictions on healthcare spending. Healthcare providers must balance meeting financial targets with providing high quality care to patients, whilst manufacturers must offer products at suitable prices, whilst remaining profitable; the market is reaching a breaking point.
Traditional ultrasound still dominates the global market, but non-traditional and point of care sales are trending upJanuary 05, 2017The way in which ultrasound systems are marketed and purchased across the world is changing. Increasingly, and especially in developed markets, ultrasound systems are being designed with a specific clinical application in mind. When ultrasound was first introduced as a medical imaging tool in the mid-20th century, healthcare providers used one system for all clinical applications. As the technology advanced, specific ultrasound systems were developed for cardiology and OB/GYN applications. During the 1980s and 1990s, 3D and 4D ultrasound technology emerged for use in advanced cardiology, OB/GYN, and radiology procedures. As systems became more sophisticated and image quality improved, ultrasound was used in non-traditional ways to perform biopsies, guide needles, and assist during minimally invasive surgery. At the same time, ultrasound systems were developed for less advanced imaging as point of care tools in intensive care units, emergency departments, and primary care offices.
Varex takes an early dose of acquisitionJanuary 05, 2017The spin-off into Varex Imaging Corporation is still to complete, yet Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) has agreed to acquire the medical imaging business of Perkin Elmer Inc. (NYSE: PKI), incorporating it into the publicly traded spin-off. The deal, with a value of $276 million, was announced on December 22nd 2016 and is expected to close after the planned separation of Varex from Varian at the end of January.
Alexa… Am I healthy?January 04, 2017Technology providers are pushing voice assistants to become a bigger part of consumers’ lives, and given the growing connectivity of things, voice assistants is set to play an operator role to give full control to the user. Up until now, voice assistants have been part of consumer electronics whether it is Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Now or Microsoft’s Cortana. These interactive and sometimes intelligent applications are now making their way to healthcare.
Bose makes hearing aids that aren’t hearing aidsJanuary 04, 2017Bose, the audio equipment company, has developed a new device for better hearing called Hearphones – its first product for the digital health market. Hearphones is a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) and is therefore not a regulated medical device, as opposed to devices marketed as hearing aids. From a technical standpoint, the difference is not significant, but where PSAPs mainly serve the purpose of amplification, hearing aids, a $5 billion market, offer treatment for various types of disabling hearing loss including hearing loss across certain frequency ranges, tinnitus, and more.
Fitbit in trouble – partnering with Medtronic to increase clinical footprintJanuary 04, 2017The last month of calendar year 2016 was busy for Fitbit. The company announced the acquisition of Pebble – an acquisition to enhance its smartwatch products of the future. More interestingly, from a digital health point of view, a partnership with Medtronic was announced. The partnership focuses on integrating data from Fitbit devices in managing diabetes. Diabetics using Medtronic’s iPro myLog mobile app will be able to take in activity and sleep data from Fitbit devices with the purpose of understanding how these metrics affect overall blood glucose levels. Doing this allows for additional precision of managing diabetes in many ways, including providing better care coordination, adjusting drug dosages, and is also an additional avenue of engagement with the patient. So far in 2017, Fitbit has announced the integration of its devices with Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform to enable UnitedHealthcare Motion members using Fitbit activity monitors.
As software becomes more intelligent, perhaps clinicians do not need to beDecember 07, 2016An increasing number of people are demanding healthcare services. This increase in demand requires additional clinical staff to process the growing number of patients; however, there remains a lack of qualified personnel in the healthcare industry around the globe. Despite more people entering the healthcare field for employment, the most recent figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show a shortage of approximately 7.2 million healthcare workers, and this figure is projected to reach as high as 12.9 million by 2035, which shows that the increase in healthcare personnel entering the workforce is insufficient in meeting the surge in demand.
Advanced Visualization, Virtual Reality and 3D Printing at RSNA 2016December 06, 2016Consumer interest in virtual reality (VR) technology and associated content continued to grow during 2016, with an estimated, forecast installed base of seven million headsets at the end of the year. Entertainment consumption habits, improved technology, inexpensive headwear, and an active start-up community provided a strong environment for VR adoption compared with just two years ago. While the largest category for funding and acquisitions in VR is game development, the medical vertical has also been working to integrate immersive technology. At RSNA 2016, both TeraRecon and EchoPixel were demonstrating integrated advanced visualization software with VR hardware, albeit with different strategies for applying the technologies to healthcare.
Breast screening and ABUS: an opportunity for radiologists to improve population health metricsDecember 06, 2016The 102nd Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America took place from 27 November to 2 December 2016 in Chicago. On Monday, 28 November, RSNA announced the results of a large study that found no evidence supporting age-based mammography cut-off.
MRI and CT at RSNA 2016December 06, 2016Innovation in healthcare is shifting towards healthcare IT and digital improvements, but at RSNA 2016, showcases for new MRI and CT equipment mainly focused on three different categories: streamlining and improving workflow, reducing scanning time; new technology pertaining to the main components of the equipment; and affordability.
New mobile and FPD market entrants – Highlights from RSNA 2016December 05, 2016The 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.
Outpatient growth drives ultrasound equipment volumesNovember 03, 2016The global ultrasound imaging equipment market is estimated to have been worth $6.16 billion in 2015; an increase of 1.2% from 2014. This rate of growth is lower than previously forecast, which is primarily due to the impact of a strong US dollar and other foreign exchange fluctuations, which affected the sales of foreign US subsidiaries. The market also experienced a period of highly competitive pricing which lowered average sales prices (ASP), particularly in Latin America and Europe. For some vendors, this ASP erosion was further exacerbated by the effects of shifting foreign exchange rates. Stronger growth is predicted for 2016 because of new product launches from Carestream, Fukuda Denshi, Hitachi-Aloka, and VisualSonics (Fujifilm SonoSite), and because of increased volumes in point of care and obstetrics applications. On a unit volume basis, shipments were up by 4% over 2014. The results for 2016 are expected to be closer to a 5% increase. Growth in the market through 2020 is being driven by uptake of mid-range and high-end cart-based systems in both emerging and developed markets for use in traditional applications. Uptake will also be bolstered by further development of the use of compact ultrasound systems in point-of-care (POC) applications.
Interventional X-ray: Minimal procedures, maximum impactNovember 01, 2016Interventional X-ray systems are used for a variety of different procedures, including interventional cardiology, interventional radiology, electrophysiology, and neurology. Machines can be dedicated to certain procedures, or used for both cardiology and radiology interventions.
The Mammography Market is growing…but for how long?October 27, 2016The Mammography X-ray equipment market is growing at a rate of 5.6% globally in terms of unit shipments, but how long will that growth sustain, and what is driving it? There are many drivers of growth behind the mammography market, but the rate of change of technology is one of the main drivers.
ICU Medical – Pumping new life into Hospira?October 20, 2016After much speculation, it was announced on October 6th that Pfizer Inc. (NYCE: PFE) had entered a definitive agreement to sell off the Hospira Infusion Systems business unit to ICU Medical (NASDAQ: ICUI) for $1 billion in cash and stock. This move may come as a surprise to some, with widespread rumours linking the sale to both Fresenius Kabi AG and Smiths Medical International Ltd. However, ICU Medical CEO Vivek Jain stated ‘‘by acquiring the Hospira Infusion Systems business, currently our largest single customer, we create a pure-play infusion business with the focus and scale to compete globally, eliminate our single-customer concentration issue, and have a significant value creation opportunity as a much larger company’’. The transaction is expected to close by early 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.
Mr. Robot and his emerging threat in healthcareOctober 17, 2016In recent years, hackers have increasingly targeted healthcare. A number of these attacks have been ransomware, in which the hacker demands a certain amount of funds to end the hack, while more serious instances have involved gaining access to patient health information – this type of data is becoming more valuable to hackers than banking information, due its perpetual nature. The focus of hackers has always been on accessing data for wide range of purposes, such as national intelligence, identity theft, intellectual property and more.
Partially subsidizing Apple watches is not the same as giving away activity monitorsOctober 17, 2016- And that is a good thing! Last week, Apple and Aetna announced a partnership that would incentivize the health insurance giant’s members for using an Apple Watch. Yes, the market has seen this model before – a technology company joining forces with a payer to push devices that enable a healthier lifestyle, and further engages consumers of healthcare products and services.
MACRA, Telemedicine and Walmart - The ATA Fall Forum 2016October 07, 2016The themes of the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) 2016 Fall Forum were familiar, but discussed with increased optimism as the long anticipated evolution from traditional healthcare to more efficient provision is well under way. Some of these themes included EMR integration, healthcare as an international business, increased consumer awareness (Walmart and other direct-to-consumer models), innovation from third party vendors, and the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).
Qualcomm Life and Philips Healthcare Partner for Personalized Connected HealthcareSeptember 21, 2016At the 5th annual Qualcomm Life Connect conference held in San Diego during August, Rick Valencia (SVP Qualcomm Life) and Jeroen Tas (CEO Connected Care Health Informatics, Philips) delivered keynote presentations concerning a new partnership that seeks to spur forward personalized connected health care from healthy living and prevention to chronic care management and home care—IHS Markit refers to the varied technologies surrounding patient connectivity simply as digital health. The goal in creating the partnership is to leverage each company’s respective capabilities, which includes Philip’s connected health informatics and regulated health care cloud data management and analytics (2net), and Qualcomm Life’s platform for secure, medical-grade device connectivity and integration (HealthSuite). Philips will also enable third party medical devices to connect to HealthSuite.
Body composition – the next new feature of activity monitorsSeptember 12, 2016At IFA 2016, TomTom released a number of new wearable devices for sports and fitness purposes - most notably the TomTom touch, which features body composition analysis. There is high demand for measuring body composition because it provides an idea of fat free mass, a metric of high importance in the fitness and dietetics industry. TomTom is among the first to add such a feature to a wrist-worn device.