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4 Future Trends in Medical Imaging that Will Change Healthcare

April 5, 2019 BY Tory Waldron

4 Future Trends in Medical Imaging that Will Change Healthcare

Medical imaging saves millions of lives each year, helping doctors to detect and diagnose a wide range of diseases, from cancer and appendicitis to stroke and heart disease. 

Because non-invasive early disease detection saves so many lives, scientific investment continues to increase. Let’s take a look at 2019’s biggest up-and-coming medical imaging technology trends:

 

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence in the medical imaging market is estimated to rise from $21.48 billion in 2018 to a projected value of $264.85 billion by 2026, according to Data Bridge Market Research’s April 2019 report. With hundreds of AI technology solutions being developed for the medical imaging market, these vendors will need to prove their ROI in a very competitive, and crowded, setting.

AI has the potential to revolutionize the medical imaging industry by sifting through mountains of scans quickly and offering providers and patients with life-changing insights into a variety of diseases, injuries, and conditions that may be hard to detect without the supplemental technology. Take these integrations, for example:

  • Google’s DeepMind: The AI technology from Google’s DeepMind can read 3D retinal OCT scans and diagnose 50 different ophthalmic conditions with 99% accuracy. Furthermore, it can not only automatically detect the features of eye diseases, but also prioritize patients most in need of urgent care by recommending whether they should be referred for treatment. This could drastically cut down on the delay between the scan and treatment, allowing patients with serious diseases to obtain sight-saving treatments in time.
  • iCAD’s “ProFound AI” solution: iCAD developed an AI-powered solution for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), which helps radiologists to view each tissue layer independently and thereby detect cancer earlier (by 8 percent). This reduces radiologists’ time spent reading breast scans by more than 50 percent on average.
  • Siemens Healthineers & Intel: These two big-name companies are partnering together to explore how AI can improve cardiac MRI diagnostics. Currently, cardiologists need to manually segment multiple different parts of the heart in their imaging – which can be quite time consuming. Siemens and Intel’s AI-enabled instant segmentation technology enables specialists to safely see more patients each day with the time saved via the automatic segmentation.

 2. Virtual Reality & 3D Imaging

Right now, the world can’t get enough of virtual reality (VR). Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles are a best seller on Amazon and there are even virtual reality arcades popping up in shopping malls that allow customers to feel the sensation of being “virtually” chased by zombies.

VR and 3D imaging technologies are not only great for entertainment, but they also have important implications within the medical imaging industry. As amazing as MRIs and CT scans are, currently, their display in 2D requires physicians to use their imaginations to mentally stitch together a full picture of the 3D organ or body part. Now, new augmented reality technologies, like EchoPixel True 3D, have made it possible for radiologists or physicians to take slices of MRI pictures to create a 3D image that physicians can examine with 3D glasses, a VR headset, or even print using a 3D printer and special plastic.

3. Nuclear Imaging

With nuclear imaging, a patient is injected with or swallows radioactive materials called radiotracers or radiopharmaceuticals prior to a medical imaging scan like a position emission tomography (PET) and/or a single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). During the scan, the camera focuses on the area where the radioactive material concentrates, showing the doctor what kind of problem exists. These types of scans are particularly helpful when diagnosing thyroid disease, gall bladder disease, heart conditions, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there are many exciting developments in this area; to name a few:

  • Amyloid PET imaging helps predict Alzheimer’s progression: Highlighted in the April 2019 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, researchers have now discovered a way to better predict progression of Alzheimer's disease. Amyloid PET imaging is a diagnostic technique that determines whether patients with memory complaints have amyloid plaques in the brain, an indicator of Alzheimer's disease. Before amyloid PET, these plaques could only be detected by examining the brain during autopsies, so this type of early detection will have major implications on how physicians diagnose and care for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive decline.
  • EXPLORER Total-body PET/CT Scanner: For the first time since its first introduction in 2018, the EXPLORER human scanner (a total-body PET/CT scanner) will start to move into high-volume hospitals, for a hefty price tag of $10 million. This scanner has proven its ability to produce quality images in less time, coupled with a much lower dose of radiotracer (18F-FDG).

 4. Wearables

Wearable medical devices are not only a top healthcare trend this year, but they are also slated to revolutionize diagnostic imaging in 2019 as well. Two notable devices include:

  • Portable MEG brain scanner: The lightweight MEG was developed by researchers at the University College London and is “worn like a helmet and can measure brain activity while people make natural movements such as nodding, stretching, drinking tea, and even playing ping-pong.” The wearable scanner brings improved imaging possibilities to patients with disorders that cause unprompted body movements, like epilepsy.
  • MRI glove: Introduced by the New York University School of Medicine and worn next to the skin, the MRI glove can provide clear, constant images of moving joints and tendons. The new glove-shaped MRI device has been integrated with garment-like detectors, and the resulting images provide a clear map of the anatomy of the hand, aiding in everything from surgery to the design of more accurate prosthetics.

Learn More

With data on approximately 14,600 hospital-based, freestanding, and portable imaging centers across the U.S., Definitive Healthcare can help you:

  • Identify directors of radiology and leaders at parent organizations and import their phone numbers and emails into your CRM to fuel lead generation efforts
  • Receive daily alerts on RFPs from imaging centers requesting medical device upgrades or service
  • Analyze technology use and implementations for individual imaging centers and complete networks to see which types of radiology procedures they conduct most frequently or to confirm which radiology machines they’re currently using
  • Confirm whether an imaging center is a designated independent diagnostic testing facility (IDTF)
  • View analyses on the radiology services each facility offers, such as:
    • Breast MRI
    • Breast Ultrasound
    • Computed tomography (CT)
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
    • Mammography
    • Nuclear Medicine
    • Position Emission Tomography (PET)
    • Radiation Oncology Accreditation Program (RO)
    • Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)
    • Stereotactic Breast Biopsy
    • Ultrasound
  • And much more!

imaging center
Fig 1:
A quick (not fully-comprehensive) look at some of the Definitive Healthcare’s imaging center search functionality

Looking to learn more about selling to physicians in an outpatient setting? Join us for our live webinar, Selling to Doctors in the Fast-Growing Outpatient Market, on May 1st at 2pm EST.

In this webinar, Enterprise Account Executive Maggie Fortune will cover how:

  • To identify ideal selling opportunities in the large ambulatory care market, including 1.6 million allied health professionals
  • Traditionally inpatient acute care environments, including cardiology, orthopedics, gynecology, and advanced dermatology, among other practice areas, are shifting
  • Payment reforms, technology advancement, and patient sentiment are driving change in the ambulatory care market
  • To target the key physician influencers across multiple facilities and networks

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