The Growing Future of MRI

The global healthcare industry is shifting its demand toward noninvasive diagnostic procedures and techniques, part of a continuous effort to detect and cure illness earlier and more quickly while minimizing risk to the patient. MRI systems and other medical imaging technology continue to adapt, becoming more available worldwide (in both cost and mobility), as well as more adept at producing clear results.

The Value of the MRI Market, Today and Tomorrow

The global medical imaging systems market was valued at $25.7 billion at the close of 2013, expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5.7%, on track for a value of $35.8 billion by 2020. Of this market, MRI systems were globally valued at $4.13 billion in 2013, expected to more than double in value to $9.2 billion by 2020, a CAGR of 11.8% (market research firm Reportstack).  With this growth, the MRI segment will expand from just 16% to over 25% of the global imaging systems market.

Speaking geographically, North America currently makes up 32% of the overall market, but the AsiaPacific region holds the highest expected CAGR of 7.5%. This could make it the global leader by 2020, partially due to healthcare reforms which aim to improve access in China, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The demand for types of MRI systems may shift as well. Closed MRI units with high field strengths dominate the market now, valued for their high clinical significance and higher image resolution. Open MRI units are rising in popularity, though, due to a consistent image improvement.  In fact, the open MRI market segment is expected to grow at almost double the projected CAGR of the closed MRI segment.

Driving Growth: The Aging Population and Demand for Diagnosis

Several factors are accelerating market growth. In developed countries, the aging population   faces increasing cases of chronic disease, which in turn grows demand for diagnostic scans. The global geriatric population is expected to triple by 2050, from 502 million to 1.5 billion people more susceptible to breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and orthopedic conditions.

The AsiaPacific region is already experiencing sales growth for these reasons. Developing nations’ price-sensitive economies welcome less-expensive MRI units that may not produce the highest quality image, but are still able to bring diagnostic imaging to those in need. Initial market penetration also brings the promise of further growth; once in place, the demand for care is likely to give way to a call for higher standards and more powerful technology.

In addition, increasing awareness is calling for early diagnostics, helping to drive the demand for MRI scans and other noninvasive services.  The 3D technology segment of the global imaging market is expected to surpass the 2D segment by 2020, owing partly to its growing significance for diverse applications. MRI systems for neurology and brain disorders have taken the top place in today’s market, but demand for diagnostic cardiac and breast scans is increasing globally. Combined with other imaging modalities, MRI has even found a place in surgical applications, providing new heights of clarity and precision that promise to drive market growth.

Slowing Growth: The Battle for Cost, at the Price of Development

Despite numerous advances in MRI capabilities, economic factors remain the greatest threat to innovation in the coming years, especially as healthcare providers call on manufacturers for cheaper technology. The battle is now between enhancing clinical diagnostics and improving cost and efficiency.

Additional stunting of development occurs in the developed world. As budget-strapped hospitals in North America and Europe with existing MRI units prolong or ignore their systems’ manufacturer-recommended life cycles, sales of more advanced replacements suffer. This results in a highly competitive MRI market, which ultimately stifles new product innovation.

What Does This Mean for Me?

At KMG, we share your desire to provide the best possible care to your patients, but we understand the need to protect your bottom line. If you are weighing the value of adding an MRI unit or updating your MR system, know that we are committed to helping you make the best choice for your situation. Contact Eric Evans we’d love to start a conversation.

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