The U.S. radiation therapy market appears to be expanding, with radiation oncology centers budgeting more money for capital expenditures than four years ago when the market experienced a major decline, according to a study published by medical imaging marketing research and consulting firm IMV Medical Information Division.
According to the study, the average capital equipment budget per radiation oncology site for 2013 is 30 percent higher than in 2009.
At the same time, the study found that patient volume has remained fairly stable over the past several years.
"The estimated number of courses of treatment--a measure that corresponds to patient volume--was at a level of 965,620 in 2012," Lorna Young, senior director of market research at IMV, said in a statement. "This level of patient volume has been relatively stable over the past decade, increasing at an average annual rate of less than 1 percent."
The study also suggests that technological improvements are driving capital budgets that incorporate new treatment technologies, such as image-guided radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy and rotational arc therapy. In addition, the study shows that 38 percent of the sites surveyed plan to purchase external-beam radiation therapy units as replacement or additional units and 45 percent are planning to acquire or upgrade their information systems over the next three years.
"This is really consistent with that whole progress toward digitization," Young told AuntMinnie.com. "Providers have traveled along this road for more than a decade, first with digital imaging and now by linking their systems with the electronic medical record."
Radiation therapy centers are trying to increase the capabilities of their information systems and to incorporate imaging into all phases of the radiation therapy workflow in order to improve the accuracy of radiation therapy treatments, Young said. "As a result, we are seeing that the proportion of radiation therapy sites budgeting capital budgets of $2.0 million or more is expected to grow from 13 percent in 2012 to 24 percent in 2014."