New Report Examines Market Shifts in Radiology Imaging

Nov. 29, 2017
Current trends in radiology imaging are shifting at a rapid rate, and the past few years has seen a small shift where organizations using a “one-stop shop” approach for imaging solutions have begun considering a “best-of-breed” (deconstructed PACS) strategy instead, according to a medical imaging usage and market trends report from Reaction Data.

Current trends in radiology imaging are shifting at a rapid rate, and the past few years has seen a small shift where organizations using a “one-stop shop” approach for imaging solutions have begun considering a “best-of-breed” (deconstructed PACS) strategy instead, according to a medical imaging usage and market trends report from Reaction Data.

While there hasn’t been a tectonic shift in this direction yet, there’s been enough “noise” to make the industry pay attention, the report states. “While some organizations embrace the benefits of using multiple vendors, others prefer the accountability and relationship growth of a single vendor,” the report authors state.

The report consolidates data received from 269 imaging professionals, with 50 percent of respondents identifying as radiology directors, 16 percent identifying as imaging directors, 9 percent as PACS admin, 8 percent as radiology managers and 6 percent were radiologists. The report analyzes the companies these radiology professionals are using in order to better understand the market shifts.

In 2016, 54 percent of imaging professionals used a single source approach for imaging, and this grew to 64 percent in 2017. Last year, 46 percent of imaging professionals said they used a best-of-breed approach, and this decreased to 36 percent in 2017.

The survey also uncovers some potential shifts occurring. When looking at single source users, in 2016, 92 percent of imaging professionals preferred to work with a single vendor for their imaging needs, and in 2017, this percentage dropped to 77 percent. This year, 23 percent of imaging professionals said they preferred to pick the best vendor for each solution. The report authors note that this indicates healthcare organizations may be moving towards multiple vendors that could more easily meet their needs.

What’s more, when best-of-breed users were polled on their preferred configuration, only 35 percent said they preferred to just use one vendor for all their imaging solutions, and 65 percent preferred choosing the best vendor for each solution.

And, while single source continues to be the most popular option (64 percent of respondents use single source versus 36 percent using best-of-breed), the research data indicates there might be some buyer’s remorse, or a grass-is-greener mentality, the report authors note. The survey also asked respondents their imaging strategy preference—62 percent of imaging professionals said they prefer single source, down from 76 percent in 2016, and 38 percent said they prefer best-of-breed, which actually increased from 24 percent in 2016.

The report authors note that the advantages of either approach are self-evident. The single source option provides efficiency, with fewer vendors and less interfacing, but there may be issues with system usability. On the other hand, the best-of-breed option allows you to use the best tool for each job, but a drawback is interacting with more vendors.

The survey also found that preferences for using an enterprise or best-of-breed approach varies largely based on the role of the professional responding to the survey. Almost two-thirds of directors of radiology and imaging prefer working with a single vendor, according to the survey, while over half of radiologists prefer the functionality and possibilities of using multiple vendors for their PACS and VNA.

“Our research shows that much of this preference depends on the companies that are being worked with and the functionality they offer,” the report authors wrote.

The survey also found that the most sought-after vendors are ones that offer a product that is both easy to use, and functionally rich. “For example, many radiologists described how their imaging software required ‘too many clicks’ for simple tasks, while products that simply ‘made sense’ were praised,” the report authors wrote. The data collected in the report consists of opinions from radiology professionals about their experiences with their current vendors as well as what they would like to see in their PACS and VNA.

Looking at the particular vendors used, the report notes that the percentage of imaging vendors that are represented in the data between 2016 and 2017 has largely remained stable. The biggest exceptions to this are the two companies with the largest presence: Change and GE Healthcare, which together make up almost half of the market presence in the data. McKesson dropped by a margin of 10 percent down to 22 percent, while GE Healthcare rose 8 percent to 23 percent to become the most widely used imaging vendor for those looking for one single source for their imaging needs.

In 2017, vendor replacement rates for single source users was 14.3 percent and best-of-breed was 28.2 percent. Lack of support was the single biggest reason for replacement, with multiple mentions of the age of platforms being a large factor in the decision to change vendors, according to the report.

The report also looked which vendors might benefit the most from healthcare providers looking to make a switch. Respondents were asked which single source (enterprise) vendor they were considering and 23 percent cited Change Healthcare; 20 percent cited Philips Healthcare; 17 percent said IBM Watson Health and 13 percent said GE Healthcare. There was no one stand-out among the best-of-breed vendors being considered. Respondents cited Change (14 percent); IBM (14 percent); GE (14 percent); Philips (12 percent); Fuji (12 percent) and Carestream (10 percent).

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