An estimated 17.0 million nuclear medicine (NM) procedures were performed on SPECT or SPECT/CT cameras in the United States in 2010, in 7,230 hospital and nonhospital sites, according to a report just released by IMV Medical Information Division.
Compared with the 17.2 million procedures estimated to have been performed in 2007, total nuclear medicine procedures have been relatively flat and trending slightly downward, having decreased an average of approximately 0.5% per year from 2007 to 2010.
“We attribute this zero growth in procedures to several factors, including the impact of preauthorization requirements from health insurance companies, as well as competing technologies, such as bone studies shifting to PET, and myocardial perfusion studies shifting to other modalities,” said Lorna Young, senior director of market research, IMV Medical Information Division. “Another issue involved the availability of molybdenum, the precursor to technetium-99m, which created much uncertainty in 2009-2010 about the supply of radiopharmaceuticals needed for myocardial perfusion and other nuclear medicine studies.”
IMV’s study also shows that physician practice locations (primarily cardiology practices) are feeling financial pressure due to reduced reimbursements from Medicare and third-party payors. When asked what issues are affecting their future outlook, the top-rated issue for both hospitals and nonhospitals is “reductions in Medicare and third-party reimbursements are causing NM revenue to decline,” but physician practice managers are more likely to rate this as a top issue than are hospital NM department administrators.
Due to these pressures, cardiology practices are facing an additional uncertainty regarding potential changes in their practice model. Respondents from physician office locations were asked if they were planning to pursue certain strategic actions over the next few years, including changing their practice ownership structure to have a joint venture with hospitals. Almost one-third are either considering or planning such a change in their practice model.
IMV’s 2011 Nuclear Medicine Market Outlook Report describes trends in nuclear medicine procedures by study type, radiopharmaceutical and pharmacological stress agent utilization, SPECT versus SPECT/CT camera installed base and purchase plans, and site operations characteristics. In this report, IMV also provides market scenarios for nuclear medicine unit purchases from 2011 through 2015. Highlights include:
- One-third of the nuclear imaging sites are physician office locations, including cardiology offices, multispecialty clinics, and imaging centers. Going forward, only one in six planned camera purchases through 2013 will be from physician offices.
- While dual-head SPECT cameras are the most preferred camera type being considered, comprising nearly half of the planned camera purchases, SPECT/CT is increasingly being adopted, comprising one-third of the planned cameras.
- A larger 87% proportion of the NM procedures conducted in nonhospital locations are cardiovascular studies, compared with 47% of those conducted in hospitals. Hospitals are more likely to be conducting other procedure types, including bone scans, liver/hepatobiliary, renal, respiratory, infection/abscess, and tumor localization studies.
- Just over one-quarter of sites indicate they provide neurology applications, but this may grow to one-third by 2013.
- Patient waiting times for nuclear imaging procedures have decreased, with the waiting times of 1+ days for scheduled outpatient procedures decreasing from 77% of the sites in 2003 to 43% of the sites in 2011.
IMV's 2011 Nuclear Medicine Market Outlook Report is based on responses from 433 nuclear medicine department/facility managers nationwide. Their responses have been projected to the universe of 7,230 short-term general hospitals, imaging centers, and physician practices in the United States that have fixed nuclear medicine cameras, as identified by IMV. For more information about IMV’s report, visit at http://www.imvinfo.com or call 847-297-1404 to speak with a representative.
IMV Medical Information Division is a marketing research and consulting firm founded in 1977, specializing in medical imaging and other advanced healthcare technology markets. IMV's marketing consulting services, in combination with its databases of U.S. imaging sites with selected modalities, provide clients valuable assistance in strategic planning, customer satisfaction, product development, and sales initiatives.