Dr Gaurav Kapoor, Associate Director and HOD, Max Hospital shares his thoughts with eHealth on how the future looks promising and bright for the Radiology and Imaging sector in the country.
What are the factors fuelling the growth of Radiology and Imaging in the country?
Radiology and Imaging as a branch of medicine have seen tremendous progress in terms of their influence on patient management over the period of years. The foremost factors fuelling the growth of this segment include the technological advancements in various diagnostic modalities of Ultrasound, CT and MRI with the addition of newer techniques and applications, which has led to an expansion of Clinical indications for their use in medicine. The increased emphasis on evidence-based medicine along with increased awareness among patients about their own health and the referring physician’s lower tolerance for uncertainty has been another major factor driving the growth of Radiology. The detailed clinical examination has now taken a backseat and been overshadowed by radiological investigations. The current environment of increased litigation, with medicine being practiced with a more defensive approach, has also led to increased use of imaging.
The availability of technologists along with the increased availability of radiological equipment has been an important factor contributing to growth in metros and major cities. The increased incidence of lifestyle induced diseases, an ageing population due to longer lifespans along with a rising incidence of cancer have also been important factors propelling the growth of imaging. All preventive health and cancer screening programmes have a significant component of radiological investigations. The increasing use and applications of functional imaging along with fusion/hybrid imaging techniques have also contributed to the growth of imaging, especially in Oncoimaging. Interventional Radiology with its ever-increasing applications for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications has been a major factor fuelling the growth of Radiology and Imaging.
How do you see the future outlook for the Radiology and Imaging sector in the country?
The future outlook looks promising and bright for the Radiology and Imaging sector in the country. Radiology is expected to grow at a CAGR of approx. 8-9 % in the coming years. Advances in USG, CT and MRI have led to virtually an explosion in the use of imaging in various clinical scenarios. The increasing use of AI applications in Radiology will lead to increased efficiency of Radiologists, appropriate queue management for reporting critical and routine cases; reduction of diagnostic errors and help reduce reporting TAT’s. The increasing use of Teleradiology can help provide Radiology services to underserved areas with a shortage of Radiologists. It can also help obtain sub specialist opinions which are going to become indispensable going forward, especially in tertiary care centres. The advent of molecular imaging and its integration with conventional imaging will also drive growth and advancement in Radiology. Interventional Radiology with its ever-expanding use of Image guided procedures has catapulted Radiology into a different league and helped project it as one of the niche therapeutic sub specialty. I believe Radiology will continue to expand its footprint in the country and the world in the coming years.
What are the technological advancements that have enabled the Radiology and Imaging segment to widen its expanse in the country?
Various technological innovations and advances have enabled the Radiology and Imaging segment to widen its expanse in the country. The advancements in PACS and digital technology have smartphones enabled radiologists to access images for reporting from remote locations and from their smartphones/mobile devices. Advances in both hardware and software in the modalities of Ultrasound, CT and MRI have expanded their use in various medical and surgical conditions in Clinical practise. The development of various AI software is enabling a radical shift in workflow optimisation and clinical decision support, enabling radiologists to make efficient and accurate diagnoses.
The development of smaller and more affordable ultrasound machines has enabled point-of care Ultrasonography for faster and quicker diagnosis and decision making. The development of portable CT scanners has helped to image patients in ICU/critical care settings and remote locations who cannot be transported to the imaging department for scanning. The increasing use of 3D printing gives patients a clearer understanding of diseases and assists surgeons in the planning of surgical procedures.
The various advances in Interventional Radiology including the development of micro catheters and embolization materials, etc, have extended the use of advanced medical imaging for treatment and prevention. The advent of molecular imaging/hybrid imaging has expanded the use of imaging in multiple clinical conditions, most importantly Oncoimaging. To summarise, radiology is technology at its foundation and therefore innovations in technology will continue to drive advancements in Radiology in the coming years.