Medical Imaging AI Market Forecasted to Surpass $1.7 Billion by 2027

Published: July 11, 2023

Cranfield, UK, 11th July 2023 – The medical imaging AI market was estimated at $576 million in 2022, an increase of more than $75 million compared to Signify Research’s 2021 report. The market is forecast to soar and reach more than $1.73 billion by 2027, with a growth rate of 25% across the forecast period. Despite this aggressive growth outlook, the market has yet to ‘cross the chasm’ for most clinical applications. Commercial and care pathways must better facilitate the adoption of AI and issues with regulatory processes must be overcome so that this forecast can be realised.

On route to widespread AI adoption 

AI has truly come to the forefront in 2023, with real world developments being announced regularly. Further, academic research continues to advocate for the use of AI in radiology to drive workflow efficiencies and improve patient outcomes. Research published in Nature Communications demonstrated the ability of Us2.ai’s echoAI solution to interpret 23 echocardiographic parameters comparably to human experts. Another paper published in the Lancet Digital Health found that the use of Vara, an AI breast imaging solution, alongside a radiologist achieved greater sensitivity and specificity than when the AI tool or radiologist analysed the scans alone.

Medical imaging AI also offers health economic benefits, including tripling the chance of patients living independently after a stroke (NHS England), and the wider adoption of AI in healthcare has the potential to significantly reduce healthcare costs, for example, saving the US between $200B and $360B per year (McKinsey and Harvard University). Further, changing attitudes towards AI are shifting the landscape, with studies reporting a greater confidence among radiologists when using AI as a diagnostic support tool. The increased confidence and willingness to implement AI could be down to the advancement of algorithms and the continued development of both comprehensive solutions and AI platforms. AI platforms (for example Blackford Analysis, Nuance) offer the advantage of simplifying the deployment and integration of AI in the radiology workflow, whilst also enabling collaboration across the clinical care pathway, driving market momentum.

A slice of the pie 

The market continued to be dominated by four main clinical segments in 2022, namely cardiology ($192m), neurology ($159m), pulmonology ($88m), and breast imaging ($69m), accounting for 88% of market share overall (as shown in Figure 1). To remain competitive, vendors will increasingly look to deploy their tools via the cloud, with cloud deployment accounting for nearly $1.1 billion of the market in 2027. This route of deployment ensures the ease of updating AI solutions and the ability to couple deployment with an operational expenditure (OpEx), e.g., SaaS, business model.

Vendors are increasingly favouring an OpEx business model over capital expenditure (CapEx) purchases for AI. However, some companies have experienced a temporary blip in revenues when shifting to this model, with the value of contracts being realised over the duration of the contract, rather than receiving significant payment outright. Nevertheless, such transitions for vendors should prove beneficial in the long term.

Full speed ahead   

One of the major drivers promoting the adoption of medical imaging AI solutions is the introduction of new reimbursements in the US, e.g., for Cleerly (plaque analysis) and Perspectum (fatty liver disease), as well as Viz.ai’s continuing to receive its New Technology Add-on Payment (NTAP) for stroke LVO solutions (that can be leveraged by other stroke imaging AI vendors).

CPT codes provide an incentive for healthcare providers to adopt AI as well as a pathway to receive reimbursement, allowing AI vendors to further fund and develop their solutions. Further to the Category III CPT codes announced in 2021 and 2022, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced a new CPT code for AI solutions for brain volumetry analysis at the start of July this year.

Another is the continued influx of venture capital investment into the imaging AI market, which provides an additional means for vendors to develop and advance their AI algorithms. However, investors are becoming increasingly discerning in the companies they invest in, prompting AI vendors to continually innovate their offerings.

The explosion in the number of commercially available AI platforms to tackle the last-mile challenges of deployment, integration, and orchestration is expected to drive the market forward. AI platforms provide healthcare facilities with a simpler, safer, and more cost-effective way of adopting and utilising AI solutions.

Room for improvement 

Not all is as rosy as outlined above. There are several hurdles to overcome before AI becomes the norm in the radiology department. For instance, although reimbursement has been realised for a few clinical cases, it generally remains limited across all clinical segments, especially beyond the US. Additionally, there have only a few companies to date that have looked to leverage the Category III CPT codes for their solutions in radiology AI, limiting the traction needed to upgrade these to Category I CPT codes with obligatory reimbursement.

The number of regulatory approvals secured across both EMEA and Asia over the backend of 2022 and first half of 2023 has been surprisingly low. Two NMPA approvals and only 12 CE marks have been awarded in 2023 to date, demonstrating a decline compared with previous years. Across Europe, the planned transition from the Medical Devices Directive (MDD) framework to the new Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) has disincentivised vendors from seeking CE approval, but with the extended deadline coming into force, it is hoped this will improve.

As AI algorithm offerings become more and more advanced it is pertinent that developers ensure that their models are generalisable. The testing of AI models is often conducted on relatively small and enriched samples, introducing patient geography and demographic bias. Because of this, it has been found that some AI products, when deployed commercially, may not deliver the same performance in real-world clinical settings.   

Crossing the Chasm:  

Medical imaging AI is becoming more accessible and supported across healthcare systems, however, with this comes the need to address the barriers to widescale adoption and deployment. The landscape is highly saturated, but the market is maturing, and it looks to cross the chasm. As such, vendors will need to continue to innovate to ensure that their solutions stand-out from the competition and deliver ease of use, return on investment and breadth of capabilities for customers. Vendors that take account of these criteria will be the ones that are able to profit from this booming market.

Related Research

AI in Medical Imaging Market Intelligence Service

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The four deliverables included in the 2023 subscription are: 

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About Ellie Baker

Ellie joined Signify Research in 2023 as part of the Medical Imaging team. She holds a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Bath and an MSc in Clinical Drug Development from University College London.  

About the AI Medical Imaging Team

Signify Research’s AI in Medical Imaging service provides expert market intelligence and detailed insights for several of the leading AI and Imaging IT vendors. Combining primary data collection and in-depth discussions with industry stakeholders, our thorough research approach yields credible quantitative and qualitative analysis, helping our customers make critical business decisions with confidence. Furthermore, our commitment to seeking a plurality of perspectives across the markets we cover guarantees that our insights remain independent and balanced. In June, our flagship report, AI in Medical Imaging World Market Analysis 2023, will be published, which is part of our annual AI in Medical Imaging Market Intelligence Service 2023.

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