The demand for quality medical care has grown across India fueled by increased per capita disposable income, awareness and upsurges in non-communicable and chronic diseases. MR has grown to become a key part of the radiology department, and today’s MRI purchases are increasingly becoming more strategic decisions for hospitals with shift towards a value-based care model in healthcare. At around 1500 Cr per annum MRI market is big revenue source for vendors and one of the biggest capex for Healthcare facilities.
Last 10 years has seen phenomenal growth in this segment. Metro and Tier 1 cities are becoming primarily replacement/upgrade markets with most of the growth coming from Tier II and III cities. Premium 3T market is driven by metros, tier I cities and installations through the PPP model. 1.5T still has the largest market share with preowned or refurbished machines still making sense in Tier III cities due to limited revenues per scan. 7T systems though commercially available now have a very limited demand.
MRI is the segment in imaging which is seeing the maximum research and development with the technological innovations in machine design, gradient and coil technology, advancement in software and application of artificial intelligence in acquisition and post processing of acquired data resulting in sharper images, faster scans and better interpretation. With the focus on shortening the exam time vendors have come up with acceleration techniques which reduces the acquisition time without compromising image quality. Patients comfort is a priority now with most of the manufacturers coming out with innovative solutions for making the scans less noisy and are giving importance to enhancing exam room experience for the patient.
MRI is a huge investment from a buyers perspective, considering high upfront and maintenance costs, and the market is dominated by a handful of muiltinational companies. With increased focus by Govt on local manufacturing under the “Make in India” initiative and recently introduced health cess also pushing for local manufacturing, the cost of MRI machines should eventually come down.
Limited availability of well-trained imaging professionals, both technologists and Radiologists alike, is another challenge. Teleradiology has an important role to play but the ultralow cost model offered by many raises a question on the quality of reports delivered.
MRI’s exponential growth in a developing country like ours and countries alike is very promising and shows us that we are definitely on the path for quality healthcare for all.
I acknowledge my friends from the industry Mr Brajesh Kumar and Mr Ritwik Roy for their inputs.