Aging MRI fleet could mean more facilities ready to buy equipment

Considering the increasingly advanced age of MRI scanners in U.S. facilities, it is likely that many are ready to be replaced, according to a survey by the IMV Medical Information Division.

According to IMV, the average age of installed MRI scanners increased from 8.7 years in 2010 to 11.4 years in 2013. 

"The last spike of new MRI installations extended from 2002 to 2004," Lorna Young, senior director of market research at IMV, said in an announcement. "The research finds that the market is ready for replacement of the older units that are at the end of their useful lives. Providers are also planning to take advantage of the wider bore sizes and higher magnet field strengths that are now available."

According to the survey of 450 MRI administrators from across the country, 20 percent of facilities that use MRI machines plan on purchasing a new system in the next three years. Larger hospitals with more than 200 beds currently are the prime market for new MRI purchases, while small independent imaging centers are more hesitant about new purchases due to bottom line concerns. For example, despite the fact that these independent centers represent more than one-third of MRI sites, only about 20 percent are planning new MRI purchases.

Those making the buying decisions are addressing a number of challenges, such as falling reimbursements, prior authorization processes and maintaining department accreditation, in addition to tracking changes in state and federal healthcare reforms. Results from the survey suggest that 33.8 million MR procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2013, representing an annual average growth rate of 2.8 percent. The survey respondents indicated that reimbursement reductions are causing MR revenues to decline, despite the evidence that utilization is increasing.

A report published last spring predicted that the MR imaging market--estimated at $4.13 billion in 2013--will reach $5.24 billion by 2018.

To learn more:
- read the announcement from IMV

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