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Procedure volumes in nuclear medicine to go up, despite pandemic

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | July 19, 2022
Business Affairs Molecular Imaging
The number of fixed nuclear medicine cameras rose 2% from 2018.
An increase in available nuclear medicine cameras has providers in the field feeling more positive about procedure volumes in 2022.

The number of fixed nuclear medicine cameras rose 2% from 2018, with 14,860 in use today, according to IMV Medical Information Division’s newly published 2022 Nuclear Medicine Market Outlook Report, which interviewed 338 radiology and nuclear medicine administrators. The devices enable providers to perform radionuclide therapy procedures, which an estimated 25% of nuclear medicine sites offer. This increases to 45% to 65% of sites when only considering hospitals with 200 or more beds.

As a result, procedures are expected to rise, despite the ongoing pandemic and associated supply chain issues. Additionally, nuclear medicine practices are also less pessimistic about revenue, reimbursement and net income, even though they will remain the same.

Many are focused on improving the patient experience, as well as satisfying referring physician needs; aligning staffing levels with patient volumes and scheduling; obtaining nuclear medicine department accreditation; and improving their workflows and productivity.

The increase in cameras is partially due to an 11.9% rise in installations at non-hospital sites. Of the entire installed base, 57% are in hospitals and 43% are in non-hospitals, with 74% of these non-hospital locations being physician offices.

A combined 41% of sites either will or are considering purchasing nuclear medicine cameras over the next three years. While intent to buy these devices is down from 53% in 2018, it is in line with 40% of sites in 2015.

But some are still concerned about the pandemic and its impact, with 11% saying it has had a "high impact" on their operations, and 35% saying it has had a "medium impact." Many point to technologists still having to wear PPE, cancellations or no-shows over fears of COVID and stay-at-home guidelines, and declines in patient volumes.

The impact on supply chains has also caused 14% of sites that use radiopharmaceuticals to change how frequently they order them, as well as timing and reduced dosing.

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