Analyze: Technology Deep Dive: Radiology 3D Image/Display

HIMSS Analytics

This week, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) holds its annual meeting in HIMSS Analytics's hometown of Chicago. At the meeting, attendees will get to learn, discuss and experience the latest trends in radiology technology. Although radiology imaging itself is a fairly mature market — installation of radiology picture archive and communication systems (PACS) reached 90 percent adoption by 2013 — the technology is ever-advancing and new opportunities open up for faster, easier and more accurate diagnosis.

In honor of that, we decided to explore the current radiology 3D image/display market at U.S. hospitals. As one of the 200+ technologies tracked in our Logic platform, radiology 3D image/display is defined as "medical image software — dedicated to Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) — that supports three dimensional displays such as for mammography."

You may have stumbled across some use cases for this before; for example, 3D images of babies' faces in utero. But how prevalent is radiology 3D image/display in U.S. hospitals? Let's dive deeper into this exciting new technology.

Technology Deep Dive: Radiology 3D Image/Display

In the U.S., adoption of radiology 3D image/display nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016. The market is dominated by three primary vendors — Terarecon, GE Healthcare and Toshiba. Currently, over 40 percent of U.S. hospitals have an installed radiology 3D image/display solution, leaving over half of U.S. hospitals without a current solution. Hospitals without a solution are likely using radiology PACS, which stores standard 2D images, instead.

However, 3D imaging is taking radiology to the next level, and as the digital wave continues to crash over the healthcare industry, adoption rates of radiology 3D image/display are expected to increase. In fact, nearly 50 U.S. hospitals currently have a high likelihood of purchasing a radiology 3D image/display solution. Ten U.S. hospitals have announced concrete purchase plans for one or more solutions, either for the first time or as a replacement for their existing solution.

Of the hospitals with an installed or planned solution, 60 percent have over 100 staffed beds. It's important to note, however, that the number of beds in a hospital isn't indicative of its maturity as an organization. Even some critical access hospitals (with fewer than 25 beds) have adopted the new technology. A hospital's region may be a better indicator of their likelihood of buying; southern states have much lower adoption rates than northern states.

Vendor Opportunities for 3D Imaging in Healthcare

For vendors of radiology 3D image/display technology, there is still an immense amount of greenspace in this market. As 3D imaging becomes more deeply ingrained into the culture and processes of radiology, new opportunities will continue to open up. Meeting and conferences like the RSNA will continue to educate healthcare providers on new possibilities for improving the cost and quality of care, and in doing so, will likely help radiology 3D image/display become the norm for healthcare organizations around the world.

Vendors looking to dive into this new market should keep this in mind. Regional-based sales may be a good place to start; because adoption rates are so much lower in southern states, vendors might want to target these areas first. However, because so many U.S. hospitals have no existing solution and no plans to buy, the sales cycle for this technology could be slow; you'll need to convince stakeholders of their need for radiology 3D image/display before you can convince them of their need for your solution specifically.

The bottom line: 3D imaging technology is transforming healthcare. With a more detailed image, healthcare providers can improve the speed and accuracy of their diagnoses, reduce the amount of radiation exposed to patients and ultimately, achieve better outcomes across the board.