The market for picture archiving and communication systems is set for slow but steady growth in coming years as healthcare organizations replace legacy systems and adopt new image and information management platforms, according to a Frost & Sullivan analysis.
The radiology informatics market lost ground between 2009 and 2011 due to factors such as market saturation and a focus on electronic health records and chasing Meaningful Use incentives.
"However, the persisting need of medical imaging providers for new advanced system capabilities that reinforce the clinical, IT as well as the value proposition of the imaging enterprise to internal stakeholders and patients is warranting the replacement of legacy systems and the adoption of next generation image and information management platforms," according to a Frost & Sullivan announcement.
The market earned revenues of $1.1 billion in 2011 and is estimated to reach $1.4 billion in 2018, according to the report. "The current dynamics in the radiology IT marketplace suggest that market revenues will revert to a steady but very slow growth path as the field embarks slowly but surely on a new wave of system replacements.
Meanwhile, the overall radiology informatics market is still looking weak, as the volume of imaging procedures--and reimbursement for them--declines. As FierceHealthFinance reported earlier this month, Medicare payments to radiologists declined from $5.3 billion in 2006 to $4.7 billion in 2010, an 11 percent decline. Cardiologists and internal medicine specialists have seen similar drops in reimbursement.
"Radiology informatics vendors must readjust their business operations to their customer's reality of narrower profit margins and less capital-intensive revenue streams," according to the Frost & Sullivan report. "As the industry continues to consolidate around a few key successful vendors catering to the large-scale end of the market, industry fragmentation is still intensifying in the smaller-scale segments."