Why You Should Pay Attention to the Diagnostic Imaging Market

An aging population is spurring investment and innovation in technology to diagnose chronic diseases earlier and treat them through non-invasive methods

Abhi Gadudasu
Sep 3 · 5 min read

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is going to double over the next 30 years. By 2030, in fact, 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65. Of this population, it is estimated that 80% will have at least one chronic health condition and that by 2030, and at least 60% will have more than one. While some of these chronic conditions are already treatable under certain capacities, like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, or diabetes, many still are extremely difficult to not only treat but in some circumstances, diagnose. It is diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s that pose serious problems to the growing geriatric population. With these issues of treatment and diagnosis, it is important that the signs of chronic conditions be caught early and dealt with immediately. The surge in the population’s age is undoubtedly driving demand for improvements in diagnostic imaging technology. Because of this, innovation in this field can be expected to be a key part in treating chronic disease, offering more non-intrusive and pragmatic solutions to serious medical issues & conditions.

The diagnostic imaging market as a whole is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% through 2026, becoming a $35 billion market. While we have highlighted that the growing geriatric population will spur demand for this technology, it alone is not the sole factor for why the market is worth paying attention to. Current diagnostic imaging technology provides medical professionals with extremely important information regarding the origin, severity, and possible treatment strategies of various afflictions like cancer and Alzheimer’s, but it has its limitations.

In a 2020 Health Management journal, Israeli radiology specialist Dr. Moshe Graif remarked that there are current challenges with tissue characterization, micro resolution of images, and affordability when applying current radiology technologies. Treating more aggressive forms of cancer and chronic neurological disease requires more detailed imaging due to the structural complexity that these diseases take in the human body. It is with impending developments in quantitative imaging and interventional radiology that these diseases will be further understood. Soaring demand and current diagnostic imaging limitations are creating the foundation for new advancements in imaging technology, providing an opportunity for the market to expand.

This expansion will most notably happen through greater penetration in developing economies like India, China, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, Russia, and South Africa. These countries, especially with their respectively high populations, have higher cumulative cases of chronic disease. It is even estimated that a little more than 50% of the global cancer population comes from developing countries. With exponentially growing populations and high susceptibility to complications with chronic disease, developing countries are showing an impending necessity for improvements in diagnostic imaging.

Some of the most significant advancements in the market have come from innovation related to CT (Computed Tomography) scans. The CT scan market, currently the largest component of the diagnostic imaging market, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.54% through 2026 and be worth $8.61 billion by the end of the forecast period. More recently, there has been an emergence in both low-dose radiation and automated CT scans that can provide even higher resolution imaging with low radiation risk & exposure for both patients and techs, and automated CT scans have provided improved operability and affordable installation for hospitals. Moreover, improvements in semiconductor materials have provided new opportunities for device miniaturization and even multi-slice CT scans. These multi-slice CT scans enable data to be collected from multiple cross-sections at a time, providing an even more accurate and contextualized image. This detail will facilitate earlier diagnosis & prognosis, advanced capabilities like vascular imaging, and even out-patient diagnosis. Many of these technologies are already FDA approved and have been mobilized in countless hospitals across the United States. Some of the pioneers in this field are tech powerhouses like General Electric, Siemens, and Philips, and then more medically focused companies like Ireland’s Medtronic and China’s Neusoft Medical Systems.

In addition to CT scan advancements, there have been quite a few other notable technological developments that have set the stage for a diagnostic imaging market boom. One such development worth watching is holography technology, in which a high fidelity 3D image of an object is created by capturing the light that reflects off it when a laser is projected upon it. This technology provides a non-invasive way to look at parts of the human body, like a liver or a colon, in extremely high resolution, potentially eliminating the need for procedures like colonoscopies, as just one example. This development becomes extremely important when considering the growing geriatric population and its demand for non-invasive procedures. Before advancements in holography, there have been very few ways to look at high-resolution images of specific cells or tissue inside one’s body. Medicine has had a hard time in the past trying to look at objects like tumors at the cellular level with high resolution, but with holography and other new deep image scanning tools like computational microscopy, doctors are able to render more detailed images than ever before. With a CAGR of 33.21% through 2026 and a projected market size of $4.9 billion by the end of the forecasting period, holography technology is showing no signs of slowing down its advancements.

With continued growth in aging populations across both developed & developing countries, in addition to innovation in various segments of diagnostic imaging, the diagnostic imaging market is one that should be considered highly profitable from not only an investment standpoint but also from a medical point of view. The expected growth of imaging technology over the long run will save countless lives and further raise the standard of living for developed and developing countries around the world. In the context of COVID-19, medical holography can be helpful in a number of ways. For example, examining pulmonary lesions in an advanced-stage COVID patient can be aided drastically by this technology. Investment in the diagnostic imaging market should be seen as a reliable long-run venture that holds deep economic and societal promise.