Teleradiology is an integral component of telehealth services. Teleradiology involves transmitting radiology images in an electronic format for emergency services or for expert opinion. Radiology images are transmitted between two or more locations as required.
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Teleradiology offers extensive advantages to bridge the gap between the demand for and availability of expert radiologists and diagnostic services. In particular, teleradiology is useful for remote areas that don’t have full-fledged healthcare services but can be connected by means of the Internet. Initially, image transmission was tedious and the images that were transmitted lacked clarity and quality. Nevertheless, with advancement in information and communication technology, the processing speed of teleradiology has quadrupled and the image quality is now at par with printed images.
Availability of Hi-tech Healthcare Infrastructure Strengthens Telehealth Services in Western Europe
Western Europe houses modern healthcare services complemented by hi-tech infrastructure for executing medical care, of which teleradiology is an integral element. Western Europe accounts for almost 70% to 75% of the overall teleradiology market in Europe. The region is expected to remain a significant market for teleradiology due to consistent advancement in technologies such as cloud computing, RIS (radiology information system), and PACS (picture archiving and communication system). Shortage of expert radiologists in other parts of Europe will further propel teleradiology services. This market is further propelled due to rising emergency coverage, cost advantages, and the increasing use of imaging for diagnostics. However, the presence of complex regulations for both service providers and receivers to abide by, language barriers, and high initial setup cost are some of the factors deterring the market’s growth.
On the basis of modality, the segments of the Western Europe teleradiology market are X-ray, computed tomography (CT), nuclear imaging, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Of all, in 2014, X-ray stood as the largest segment of the overall market and is expected to retain its dominant position in the future as well. X-ray diagnostics are by far the most popular teleradiology practice and need to be examined by expert radiologists due to the complexity of the images. Ultrasound held the second largest share in the market in 2014 due to development of 3-D and 4-D modules, absence of ionizing radiation, and higher chances of receiving clear images. However, CT teleradiology will display robust growth in the global market in the future. CT has the ability to examine and scan complex body parts such as the lungs, the brain, and cardiac cavities, which has propelled its demand in the global market.
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Cross-border Regulations Hold Back Growth of Germany Teleradiology Market
The Western Europe teleradiology market is divided into the regional segments of the U.K., Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Rest of Western Europe. Germany and the U.K. collectively account for a major share in the overall market. In 2014, the U.K. stood as the largest market for teleradiology, with the region expected to display a double-digit growth rate in the coming years as well. Consistent development in digital image processing technology, widespread utilization of PACS, and the presence of top service providers for teleradiology are the reasons for this.
Germany stood as the second largest market for teleradiology in 2014 due to modern healthcare services and government programs for expansion of the teleradiology market. However, stringent cross-border regulations and high cost of teleradiology will result in slow growth of the Germany teleradiology market.