Echo labs increase utilization by moving into vascular imaging

July 16, 2004

The number of procedures performed in echocardiography labs grew rapidly from 2001 to 2002-but the growth did not come from cardiac exams. Vascular ultrasound procedures jumped 22% during this time, according to IMV Medical Information Division, while

The number of procedures performed in echocardiography labs grew rapidly from 2001 to 2002-but the growth did not come from cardiac exams. Vascular ultrasound procedures jumped 22% during this time, according to IMV Medical Information Division, while growth in the number of echocardiography procedures was virtually flat.

Based on a survey of more than 2500 U.S. hospitals and large group cardiology practices, IMV estimates that 10.35 million echocardiography procedures were performed in the U.S. during 2002 compared with 10.25 million the previous year. One out of every three sites performing echocardiography, however, also offered vascular ultrasound. These sites performed an estimated 2.02 million of those procedures in 2002, representing a 22% increase over the number performed in 2001, according to the marketing research and consulting firm, which is based in Des Plaines, IL.

Sites surveyed by IMV represent 80% of the 3130 hospitals with more than 100 beds and 400 large cardiology group practices that perform echocardiography in the U.S.

Although IMV analysts conclude that the number of echocardiography exams did not rise much from 2001 to 2002, they believe the utilization of contrast agents did. About 40% of sites surveyed in 2002 reported using these contrast agents compared with 26% in 2001.

The survey also indicated the adoption of other unconventional technology. Echo labs relied increasingly upon the use of networks to transmit images to multiple locations, according to IMV. These locations included points within the lab, as well as other departments and other facilities. In 1999, only 6% of echo labs used networks. In 2002, that rose to 17%. This includes networks installed by vendors that provide echo equipment, PACS/image management systems, or dedicated networks.

These and other data have been incorporated into IMV's 2003 Echocardiography Market Summary Report. The report compares nationwide trends from this recent census with the three prior echocardiography census surveys conducted by IMV since 1997. It provides analyses of the echo market relevant to business planning, market assessments, and sales strategy.