Stage set for growth in visualization software sales

By Bernie Monegain
09:23 AM
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Medical visualization software that allows multiple physicians to consult on a patient’s condition is one of the key areas of growth for virtual reality (VR) technologies in healthcare, according to a new report from Kalorama Information.

In the report Virtual Reality (VR) in Healthcare in the U.S., the market research firm projects medical visualization software revenues will rise12 percent each year for the next five years. The market will be driven by physicians who access advanced medical visualizations over increasingly prevalent healthcare IT systems and Internet-based applications that allow them to more freely consult with other physicians and their patients.

[See also: Disaster-ready and saving money: Medical practice goes to virtualization.]

According to Kalorama, the stage is set for growth in the market as hospitals have already made investments that enable VR technologies for medical visualization. Long-term U.S. healthcare industry investment in radiology department IT (such as RIS) and inter-departmental PACS systems provides the basis for the integration of medical visualization software.
 
“The introduction of server-based departmental and thin client medical imaging systems has significantly expanded the client base for advanced visualization software by offering powerful rendering and intensive VR capabilities to physician PCs and imaging consoles via centralized servers,” said Emil Salazar, analyst for Kalorama Information. “Revenue from departmental software licenses will consequently rise as clinics, departments, and hospitals take advantage of economical enterprise-wide server and license packages with integrated advanced visualization software suites.”

[See also: Cisco outlines its vision of a connected health future.]

The report notes that medical imaging films and other hard copies are gradually being replaced by digital images accessible to multiple consulting physicians through health IT systems and thin client applications.

For instance, multiple scans of the gastrointestinal tract over a period of time can be analyzed for rates of growth and dimensions of polyps or other suspect growths in order to aid consulting oncologists, proctologists and other specialists.

Likewise, software applications can map cognitive functional areas in the brain’s cortex from multiple scans in order to streamline imaging analysis and diagnosis. Key features in advanced medical visualization for both of these applications include image navigation and interaction. These allow physicians to view patient anatomy from multiple perspectives and tag or otherwise indicate findings contributing to a diagnosis.
 
The firm counts mostly software revenues but in select cases, specialty computer processors and network servers are required for the software-driven rendering and construction of advanced visualizations, in which case such hardware components are included in the market sizes and projections for VR applications in medical data visualization.