Signify’s Mustafa Hassan on the Ultrasound Market’s Past, Present, and Future
“I have the opportunity to take a step back and see what are the overall arching trends,” says Mustafa Hassan during his conversation with Clarius CEO Ohad Arazi on their episode of Medical Imaging for All podcast.” Read on for more highlights in this article.
Mustafa follows the trends happening in healthcare today in his role as Market Analyst at Signify Research. But his background is in academia. With a PhD in neurophysiology, “where I looked at the activity of cells in the brain and how it affects what’s called your circadian rhythms or your bodily functions,” and postdoc focused on heart cells, he wanted to transition to something new. He came across the opportunity to be a market analyst and bring his healthcare knowledge and research skills to Signify.
A Day in the Life of a Market Intelligence Analyst
Signify Research covers thirty regions and countries around the globe, as well as covers over thirty clinical applications for ultrasound. “So it’s really fascinating just to dive into each specific clinical application,” he explains. “One minute I can be looking at the cardiologies of interventional markets and then looking at each of the individual point of care markets and really analyze those. But then I have the opportunity to take a step back and see what are the overall arching trends? How does the trends in one area impact the overall market and how do they compete?”
When compiling reports, the Signify team follows the latest news releases, attends industry trade shows and conferences, and talk to vendors themselves. However, vendors often see the market only from where they stand. “So by speaking to as many vendors as we can, we get a viewpoint of how every vendor sees the market. So that allows us to collate all that information together to really find out what the real trends are that are driving the markets,” he says.
Outlook on the Handheld Ultrasound Market Today and Tomorrow
What does the handheld ultrasound market currently look like? “Not actually that dissimilar to when the compact systems first started to enter the market,” he explains. “People think, ‘Oh, these are going to replace cart systems.’ And for a while, there was a debate whether it would. But what actually happened is that the compact market developed its own part of the market, its own niche area.” While there may be overlap, handheld ultrasound is developing their own marketplace and user groups, and once it does become more mainstream, there will be more user groups distinct from compact users — especially among those who desire more portability.
In looking forward at the total addressable market, Mustafa sees handheld ultrasound extending into the home — but it won’t be entirely patient-led. “It does need to be overseen or supervised by some sort of medical professional,” he states. “And even in the products you see on the market today where it’s more patient-led, it’s still overseen by a medical professional. They need their permission to do it. So it’s really about limiting patients scanning themselves and reaching a wrong diagnosis.”
However, ultrasound does have a number of use cases for monitoring. “You’re even seeing the development — not marketable yet, but we may see that as well in the next decade or even sooner — of ultrasound patches where the patient would wear it, would monitor certain vital, certain recordings, send it to the doctor, or they can monitor it,” he explains. Then, if there’s an irregular reading, it can alert a doctor, who can bring a patient in, which can keep patients out of the hospital and frees doctors up for other tasks. Ultimately, more ultrasound usage outside of the hospital will be dependent upon more awareness of the technology.
What AI Can Do for Handheld Ultrasound
Once of the newest trends in healthcare that has the potential for a big impact is AI. “When you look at the two barriers of using ultrasound … it’s the technical difficulties in obtaining an ultrasound image and also the time and the expertise needed to actually analyze the images as well. And these areas where AI can help, AI can overcome these barriers,” he explains.
However, one challenge we’ll see with AI integration is that standalone products may need to partner with a vendor to market their solution. “There’s a lot more value in these AI solutions from users of the lower priced ultrasound,” he explains. ” AI vendors that are looking to make money or to obtain a good ROI through AI use in handheld ultrasound systems, there’s only so much you can charge that customers will be willing to pay based on the cost that they’re already paying for their ultrasound system.”
Additionally, AI may be helpful for specific measurements and solutions, yet the market today is lacking more generalized, comprehensive solutions. “But the market is starting to move in that direction. We’re starting to see more of these comprehensive solutions out there, as well as platforms offering multiple solutions for customers as well.”
3 Trends That Ultrasound Vendors Need to Address
Finally, Mustafa outlined three broader trends he’s seeing in healthcare today. The first is the backlog of imaging procedures, which started during COVID. The second is radiographer burnout, as they’re being asked to do more imaging with less time. A third trend is the energy crisis prompting the need for devices that are more energy conservative. But these three trends are what vendors are looking to solve with the devices they’re making.
For Mustafa Hassan, following healthcare and ultrasound market trends means having a better sense of anticipating how new technology will be adopted, understanding the user groups, and seeing what opportunities lie ahead for greater impact to physician productivity and patient care.