COVID-19’s impact on the mammography market

July 10, 2020
By Kaitlyn Wilkie

In December 2019, the World Health Organization was alerted to a novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The virus quickly spread, with confirmed cases in nearly every country. The first confirmed cases in the United States were reported in January. The Centers for Disease Control reported few confirmed cases throughout January and February, but March and April showed an exponential growth of cases, forcing communities to shut down to slow the rate of infections entering the healthcare system for treatment. Hospitals in hot spots funneled all resources into combating the virus, and those hospitals yet to be affected drastically changed budgets and purchasing habits in preparation. Hospitals and governments scrambled to find the additional equipment needed for treating patients and to protect hospital workers with little regard to how much it would cost, taking funds from any department that had funds available.

Hospitals have moved mammography system and upgrade purchases to the “back burner” as they shift resources to combat COVID-19. TractManager saw client interest for women’s health equipment decrease by nearly half in March 2020, as compared to activity in prior months. Activity has yet to increase since this significant drop, remaining steady into May. Most hospitals currently looking into this equipment are not expecting to purchase anytime soon, but they do want to be prepared to make a quick purchase when and if funds become available later in 2020. Of the hospitals that are preparing for future mammography purchases, most are larger organizations that have a better chance at surviving the decrease in revenue from elective procedures than do smaller hospitals. Based on 2018 and 2019 data, without the pandemic we would have expected to see an increase in activity for this technology in March, with peak activity occurring throughout Q2.

TractManager has not had any activity for 2D systems in the last 12 months, as hospitals have shifted to using 3D systems with 2D synthesizing software or have upgraded their 2D systems to 3D. For tomosynthesis systems, Hologic remains the market leader throughout this crisis. However, Hologic dropped from 89% to 77% in quote activity since Q1 2020 based on TractManager data. Activity for GE Healthcare, Siemens Healthineers, and Fujifilm has remained relatively steady. This significant decrease for Hologic is due to decreased demand for this technology. Other women’s health technologies are experiencing the same decrease in interest as mammography.

Each vendor offers its systems with several options to customize the configuration to best fit a hospital’s needs and budget. Hologic’s most popular systems are its high-end 3Dimensions and its low-end Selenia Dimensions 3D Performance. GE Healthcare offers the Senographe Pristina, Siemens Healthineers has its MAMMOMAT Revelation, and Fujifilm offers the Aspire Cristalle. Recent months’ data does not show an increase in lower-end systems or a decrease in highly configured systems. However, this will possibly change as hospitals obtain a better grasp on what they can budget for this technology post-pandemic.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the global mammography market was projected to grow from $3.7 billion to $5.4 billion between 2020 and 2025, due to increasing government investments in breast cancer detection and treatment, increased awareness by the general population, and a growing and aging population that is at risk for breast cancer. This projection may no longer be realistic, since the pandemic is currently having a global impact on healthcare systems and supply chains, and may impact future technological advancements.

Kaitlyn Wilkie
As with all things impacted by COVID-19, the future of the mammography market is uncertain, and will largely depend on how long the pandemic continues and how severely it damages the economy. It is likely hospitals will have smaller budgets and may choose to keep currently installed systems for longer, opting out of newly available upgrades and keeping smaller fleets in operation, or they may consider purchasing refurbished systems over new. The behavior of hospitals after the pandemic could also limit market growth and technological breakthroughs. Vendors may shift more of their resources to developing other technologies if they receive too little revenue for mammography, slowing progress in women’s health. Continued observation and analysis will be needed to understand the long-term effects that the pandemic will have on the mammography market.

About the author: Kaitlyn Wilkie joined TractManager in 2017 as an analyst specializing in surgery. She currently focuses on women's health and ultrasound products. Ms. Wilkie received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Texas at Dallas.