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Le grand fer a une année lente, alors que les services contrôlés de PACS prospèrent

par Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | December 14, 2012
Big iron had a slow year, point-of-care ultrasound fell short and managed PACS services prospered — these were some of the take-home messages of InMedica's year-end review of its 2012 predictions for the world medical equipment market.

Throughout its assessment of the dozen forecasts it made at the end of 2011, InMedica emphasized an important feature of this year's market: the ongoing Eurozone crisis, political and economic uncertainty in North America and slowdown in Brazil and China curbed demand for higher-end equipment.

To that end, CT and MRI markets met last year's expectations of falling below 5 percent revenue growth, with the markets inching up no more than 2 percent worldwide, with most flat or dipping a bit in 2012, InMedica said in the wrap-up, released Wednesday.

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Some technologies are selling briskly, of course. Buoyed by expanding applications in fields like emergency medicine and anesthesia, point-of-care ultrasound did well in America and the Pacific. Worldwide, it enjoyed growth in the high single digits, but troubles in Europe, the Middle East and Africa kept it from reaching the double-digit growth predicted last year, InMedica said. Traditional ultrasound, on the other hand, still dominated in Latin America, accounting for more than 80 percent of total market revenue — as predicted.

Mobile X-ray was just one percentage point shy of the firm's forecast, growing an estimated 9 percent instead of the prophesied 10 percent. Last year, InMedica had predicted that the "surge" of wireless mobile systems would help lift sales. Wireless mobile systems did grow over 30 percent, the firm said; still, the wireless flat-panel detector systems only accounted for less than an estimated one-seventh of all mobile X-ray shipments this year.

In China, the group said it successfully predicted shifts in the market, as Chinese providers start to adopt digital X-ray and color ultrasound. Both markets fell in line with expectations. FPD digital radiography revenues grew more than 20 percent in China this year, helped by falling prices and stepped-up investment from large and medium-sized hospitals and private health care entities, while entry-level, black-and-white ultrasound shipments declined more than 15 percent.

On the imaging IT front, so-called managed service model for PACS, which involve the vendor owning and managing the IT infrastructure (though often on-site), picked up speed, growing 32 percent, in line with expectations. Global revenues for this segment this year are estimated to reach $328 million, InMedica said, driven by providers' desire to reduce capital expenses.

While managed services take off, fully cloud-based PACS (where both software and data are handled remotely by the vendor) have not. The group said that cloud-based PACS grew slower than their pessimistic predictions, accounting for 0.6 percent of North American PACS revenues, below the 1.3 percent forecast for 2012. In Europe, cloud PACS accounted for 0.3 percent of revenues, below the half percentage point predicted. "The demand for Vendor-Neutral Archives as a central storage system for radiology has reduced the need for PACS to be cloud-based," InMedica said. "Cloud-based VNA storage is projected to increase."

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