Medicare cuts, ACOs to cause slowdown in diagnostic ECG device market

By Mike Miliard
11:04 AM

A new report from Millennium Research Group shows that declining demand in private practices for diagnostic electrocardiography (ECG) devices will contribute to slow growth in the U.S. market – despite a growing number of older patients who require the devices.

The study finds that reasons for declining private practice demand range from Medicare funding cuts to the impact of accountable care organizations.

In 2008, Medicare began cutting funding to private cardiology practices. These cuts have had a significant impact on the annual revenues of independent cardiologists’ annual revenues, with the result that a significant number of private cardiologists in the United States have sold their practices and moved into hospital medical centers.

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These clinics were major purchasers of resting ECGs, stress ECG systems and Holter systems, which will see a sales decline as a result, MRG finds – effects that the research group expects to continue through 2016.

Meanwhile, the increasing popularity of ACOs in the U.S. will have a negative effect on the sales of stress ECG systems, researchers say. The mandates to lower overall healthcare costs and to designate procedures to the healthcare settings best suited to providing each medical test at the lowest cost will drive procedures to larger facilities and limit sales of stress systems.

In addition, the movement to more open interfaces means purchasers are no longer limited to the software solution provided by the ECG vendor.

For example, companies such as Agfa Healthcare and Epiphany Cardiography Products have been successful in converting hospitals to their vendor-neutral ECG data management solutions, MRG points out – arguing that his trend will become increasingly significant in coming years as more ECG manufacturers enter the market with devices using the DICOM standard, providing care organizations with more options for data management solutions for their resting and stress ECG products.

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“On top of these existing market trends will come the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” said MRG analyst Mickel Phung. “ARRA has introduced incentive funding for the adoption of electronic medical records. Adoption of ECG data management solutions has been spurred by EMR adoption, as care facilities purchase data management solutions to integrate with their EMR. This will further encourage the decoupling of software from devices, allowing for their purchase from separate vendors. The increased competition will limit selling prices.”

Millennium Research Group predicts the overall market for diagnostic electrocardiography devices in the U.S. will reach a value of nearly $366 million by 2016.