Surge in demand for color ultrasound for China

Extensive reform to healthcare services and improved local supplier offerings is driving demand for color ultrasound equipment to new heights, according to a new report.


Extensive reform to healthcare services and improved local supplier offerings is driving demand for color ultrasound equipment to new heights, according to a new report from InMedica, a division of IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., The Chinese Market for Ultrasound Equipment – World – 2012.

The report observed color ultrasound equipment revenues increasing by 10% from 2010 to 2011; by 2015, market revenues for color are forecast to grow by more than 80%. While some growth is attributable to increased uptake of compact ultrasound equipment, most demand is being recorded in the low-end and mid-range cart segments (products less than $60,000). 

Current demand for color ultrasound equipment is being driven mostly by large metropolitan (Tier 3) and county based (Tier 2) hospitals. “Use of color equipment provides higher fees of reimbursement for healthcare providers”, commented Owen Tang, market analyst at InMedica. “This offers a better return on investment for color equipment compared to black and white.”

Chinese Ultrasound Market - Changing Outlook by Technology. Source: IMS Research

Black and white systems are predominantly installed and used in Tier 1 health centres and family clinics in China. These institutions benefitted from strong investment in 2009 and 2010 as part of the Chinese healthcare reform. Now, reflecting rapid changes in demand, many low-end Chinese suppliers are entering the color market.

“Government support of Chinese black and white ultrasound suppliers prevented multinational suppliers competing on price in the entry level and low-end market,” commented Stephen Holloway, senior analyst at InMedica. “Yet rising demand for higher specification color systems in Tier 2 hospitals is causing a convergence of interest for local and multinational suppliers, increasing the intensity of competition.”  

Consequently, a dramatic shift is forecast for the China market, with color ultrasound equipment set to dominate. “Cost will remain a significant factor in tender bidding” added Tang, “although brand and feature sets of ultrasound products are becoming increasingly important”. Furthermore, with more than 3,000 Tier 2 hospitals and 28,000 Tier 1 healthcare centres and clinics in China, the potential for growth remains high. “The market in China is far from saturated”, continued Holloway. “We project double-digit revenue growth from 2013, as the bulk of investment in equipment replacement is implemented. Longer-term, the potential of the Tier 1 market could drive even stronger growth.”

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