Medical imaging saves millions of lives each year. It helps doctors to detect and diagnose a wide range of diseases, from cancer and appendicitis, to stroke and heart disease. The healthcare industry always aims to deliver new innovations to patients, though. So stakeholders continue to invest in medical imaging technology research.
This blog will look at some of the biggest medical imaging technology trends in recent years.
Medical imaging market trends
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence in the medical imaging market will rise from $21 billion to $264.85 billion by 2026. With hundreds of AI technologies in development, vendors will need to prove customer ROI in a competitive setting.
It's worth the extra effort, though.
AI has the potential to revolutionize the advanced medical imaging industry. The ability to sift through large volumes of scans and return insights is critical for many physicians. AI-driven analytics can improve the accuracy and speed of decision-making.
Take these integrations, for example:
- Google’s DeepMind can read 3D retinal OCT scans and diagnose 50 different ophthalmic conditions with 99% accuracy. It can detect indicators of eye disease. It can also rank patients by urgency and recommend treatment. These capabilities could cut down on the delay between scan and treatment. This allows patients to get sight-saving treatments in time.
- iCAD’s “ProFound AI” is a solution for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT). It helps radiologists to view each tissue layer and thereby detect cancer up to 8 percent sooner on average. This can reduce radiologists’ time spent reading breast scans by more than 50 percent.
- Siemens Healthineers & Intel partnered to explore how AI can improve cardiac MRI diagnostics. Currently, cardiologists need to segment many different parts of the heart in their imaging. A time-consuming task. This AI-enabled instant segmentation technology enables specialists to see more patients each day.
Augmented intelligence is comparable to artificial intelligence. True artificial intelligence emulates human-like “thinking” without human intervention. Augmented intelligence still requires human interactions. With human input, augmented intelligence can improve monotonous manual physician workflows. The end results can be similar, but the process is a bit less automated.
A major trend we see in healthcare is augmented intelligence used to improve collaboration between radiologists and oncologists. This enterprise imaging, as its also known as, has larger implications in healthcare. It is generally more affordable than more advanced artificial intelligence solutions. Augmented intelligence is a more realistic entry point for many facilities.
Virtual and augmented reality & 3D medical imaging
The world can’t get enough of virtual reality (VR) right now. This tech isn't only for entertainment purposes. VR and 3D medical imaging technologies have important implications within the healthcare industry.
As amazing as MRIs and CT scans are now, their 2D renders demand physicians to use imagination. New augmented reality technologies, like EchoPixel True 3D, make it possible for physicians to create a 3D image of MRIs. They can then examine the image with 3D glasses or a VR headset.
The 3D image is interactable via peripheral pointing devices. Medical professionals can rotate the image and make cross-sections. This is for better visualization and planning before a procedure. Physicians can even print these images with a 3D printer.
Augmented reality (AR) is like VR in that it creates three-dimensional images. AR images combine with the real world. Companies like Proprio are using machine learning and AR to help surgeons. The tech can see through obstacles and blockages that may impede a high-risk operation.
In nuclear imaging, a patient ingests radioactive materials called radiotracers (or radiopharmaceuticals) before a medical imaging scan. During a scan, a camera focuses on where the radioactive material concentrates. These types of scans are particularly helpful when diagnosing the following:
- thyroid disease
- gall bladder disease
- heart conditions
- cancer, and
- Alzheimer’s disease
Currently, there are many exciting developments in this area. For example:
- Amyloid PET Imaging helps predict Alzheimer’s progression. This scan determines whether patients with memory issues have amyloid plaques. These are an indicator of Alzheimer's disease. Before amyloid PET, these plaques were only detectable by examining the brain during autopsies. This type of early detection will impact how physicians diagnose and treat patients.
- EXPLORER Total-body PET/CT Scanner began moving into hospitals for the first time in 2018. It started at a hefty price tag of $10 million. This scanner has proven its ability to produce quality images in less time. It also uses a much lower dose of radiotracer (18F-FDG).
Wearable medical devices have many real-world use cases. A current trend sees them aiding our aging population to conveniently monitor and report vitals. They are also expected to revolutionize radiology and diagnostic imaging.
Two notable devices include:
- The Portable MEG Brain Scanner measures brain activity while people make natural movements. These movements include nodding, stretching, drinking tea, and even playing ping-pong. The wearable scanner brings improved imaging possibilities to patients with disorders, like epilepsy.
- The MRI Glove was introduced by the New York University School of Medicine. It can provide clear, consistent images of moving joints and tendons. This glove-shaped MRI device has been fit with garment-like detectors. These detectors produce accurate maps of a hand's anatomy. This capability can aid in everything from surgery to better prosthetics design.