Diagnostic imaging  

Computed radiography and digital radiography systems lead radiology digitisation across Europe

17 January 2006

London, UK. Apart from improving efficiency and increasing the workflow of radiology departments, another factor driving the digitisation of radiographic images is the implementation of picture archiving and communications systems (PACS). Since input into PACS is in a digital form, hospitals and healthcare establishments need to convert their film screen images into digital data in order to upload them into the PACS network. This transition from analog film-based technology to digital technology is forcing hospitals to revamp and update their radiology systems, thereby, driving the uptake of CR and particularly DR systems.

While analog screen film X-rays have been in use since the time Roentgen discovered X-rays, their growing use has necessitated better and faster equipment to cater to the increase in diagnostic procedures. In meeting these requirements, digital systems such as CR and DR reduce procedure time and increase patient throughput. Further, digital technology speeds image availability and also reduces image retakes and duplication costs, boosting overall workflow and productivity.

"However, continuous price erosion and low adoption rates of PACS in some regions are proving to be key challenges to the growth of the CR and DR systems market in Europe," notes Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Industry Manager Srividya Badrinarayanan. "Implementation of PACS is particularly vital for the growth as most healthcare institutions invest in CR or DR systems only when they have radiology information systems (RIS) or PACS operating or plan to implement the same."

In this respect, although countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France are showing keen interest in CR and DR technologies, PACS has not been very openly welcomed by healthcare institutions in Spain and to an extent France, due to the financial and budget constraints.

Considering the individual markets for CR and DR technologies, despite the simultaneous growth of both the markets, the growing popularity of DR systems is reducing the demand for CR systems. Low radiation dose during the X-ray procedure combined with superior image quality make DR systems highly sought after, especially among institutions that are concerned about the radiation dose given to patients. Also, as there is no manual labour involved, the time taken for obtaining the digital display is very less and this increases the total patient throughput, thus profiting the radiology department.

Nevertheless, with their higher prices and maintenance costs, DR systems prove to be expensive in cases where there are lesser number of procedures to be performed. In such cases, customers show a preference for CR systems, especially smaller imaging centres and private physicians who do not have access to substantial finances.

The European CR systems market was valued at $261.9 million for 2005 and is expected to reach $322.9 million in 2010. Although the market shows good growth potential in countries such as Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, it has reached saturation in other large countries such as France and the Scandinavia, where the market for CR systems has now become more of a replacement market.

Revenues in the European DR systems market on the other hand were valued at $165.0 million in 2005 and could reach $318.6 million in 2010. Germany ranks top in the DR systems market with a 23.0 per cent share of the total European market followed by Scandinavia with 18.0 per cent and the United Kingdom with 16.0 per cent.

"Though there is major drive to convert analog screen film into digital form using CR and DR systems, the market, especially for CR systems is experiencing continuous price erosion, thereby making it difficult for the industry participants to sustain their profitability," says Ms. Badrinarayanan." Hence, vendors will have to chalk out appropriate pricing plan for their digital systems and create more awareness on the advantages of the digital systems and network, while also focusing on developing clinical performance of the system and bundling it with PACS/RIS.

Further information


Email Radhika Menon Theodore, Corporate Communications, Frost & Sullivan, at rmtheodore@frost.com 

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