Every year, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) kill 17.9 million people, while cancer carries an annual mortality of 9.6 million, as per the World Health Organization (WHO). Other common chronic diseases with a high burden of morbidity and mortality are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and a host of musculoskeletal conditions, such as atrophy and dystrophy, osteoporosis, osteopetrosis, and osteopenia. The effective diagnosis and treatment of these diseases require medical imaging, so that the doctor can take a peek inside the body to see what is really happening.
Thus, a key reason for the rising volume of medical imaging tests and, in turn, the procurement rates of such solutions, is the increasing awareness of the early diagnosis of diseases. The outcomes for patients suffering from many chronic diseases, such as cancer and CVDs, often depend on how far advanced the disease is. Therefore, catching them as early as possible becomes important because beyond a certain point, the disease becomes incurable. For instance, stage 4 cancer, which is characterized by metastasis (spread of the tumor from the original site to other places inside the body), is mostly terminal.
Owing to such factors, medical device companies are bringing about technological advancements in the imaging systems and software. For instance, hybrid positron emission tomography (PET)/computer tomography (CT) and PET/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners combine two modalities, thus overcoming the shortcomings associated with each of them individually. Moreover, the introduction of 3D and 4D features in ultrasound machines has allowed for the detection of congenital defects and monitoring of the fetal heart in utero. Similarly, the picture archiving and communication (PACS) system and other visualization software are also being improved.
Due to such technological enhancements, North America is the largest advanced visualization market presently. Driven by its developed healthcare infrastructure and affordability of the services as a result of people’s high disposable income and favorable reimbursement scenario, the continent accounts for one of the highest volumes of medical imaging studies in the world. Additionally, the rising geriatric population here is pushing up the incidence of chronic diseases, which is leading to the incorporation of advanced visualization solutions by the medical facilities in the region.
Such solutions are of two types: enterprise-wide thin-client-based solutions and standalone-workstation-based solutions, of which enterprise-wide thin-client-based solutions are more popular. These solutions are undergoing an increment in their data storage capacity and advances in their data transfer capabilities, while multi-user interfaces are also emerging. Additionally, post-processing solutions are being centralized, and analysis procedures are being enhanced. Moreover, these solutions allow for smooth communication and data exchange between multiple departments at large hospitals, such as radiology, internal medicine, surgery, intensive care units (ICUs), and medical billing and insurance claims.
Hence, with the rising prevalence of chronic diseases, the demand for advanced visualization solutions will rise further.