PACS market to hit $8.6 billion by 2011
PACS market in Europe and North America will reach $8.6 billion by 2011 compared to an estimated $4.9 billion today, according to predictions in a new report from market analyst Datamonitor. One factor is that PACS is evolving out of radiology and into more and more healthcare industry sectors, and in some instances Academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies.

“Common industry estimates suggest 5 percent-20 percent of traditional medical film images are lost in transit annually,” said Justin Davidson, associate analyst at Datamonitor, and author of the study. “It means patients having to have x-rays retaken and compromised diagnoses due to missing medical histories.”

“With PACS the chances of medical records being lost are very small, just one example of its advantages. In addition, technological developments in digital imaging mean PACS has evolved such that it can now be integrated into cardiology, pathology and dermatology, driving demand for more deployments within a single institution,” he added.

The firm found that cost savings, time efficiency and higher level of patient care are the biggest drivers for market growth. However, while large institutions don’t see the cost of PACS implementation as an impediment to installation, the cost of the system is of concern to smaller community hospitals. They often have difficulty in raising the capital for investment in technology. This is particularly true in markets such as Eastern Europe, the firm found. Smaller hospitals usually have concerns over initial capital costs, and raising funds for investment in new technology is particularly difficult for them. In the U.S. in particular, the majority of hospitals still to install PACS are the smaller community institutions.

However, as the cost of PACS falls, largely due to reduced storage costs, and small hospitals see the benefits of PACS gained by larger hospitals, this conservatism is waning, Datamonitor found.

Although France and Germany have been slower than other western economies in installing PACS, Datamonitor believes clinical benefits will prove a strong selling point and expects both markets to grow at an annual rate of 12 percent and 11 percent respectively from 2006-2011.

 “Technology vendors need to understand the differing priorities of healthcare providers across the markets, and take a flexible approach to selling PACS, especially where there has been apprehension towards the technology,” said Davidson. The competition between vendors is likely to be focused on the product package and price structure rather than advanced features sets. To remain competitive in this evolving market, strong partnerships among vendors will be important to retain business and keep a competitive edge by offering synergies and a greater depth of applications.”