Forecast Your Future: Anticipating solutions before they become needs

By Kevin Siebs, Clinical Demand Analyst

One of the most rapidly evolving trends in healthcare is Big Data and its use for clinical decision making. IBM Watson, for example, is literally offering oncologists treatment suggestions based on mountains of clinical data and journal articles. A less glamorous use of Big Data is in market planning decisions for the addition of MRI, PET/CT, CT, digital mammography, DR or other high-end diagnostic imaging technology.

In this day and age, there are several market planning programs available with hundreds of millions of claims data that forecast growth or decline in services.

If you would like to learn about market planning for your imaging service lines, we invite you to join our webinar on October 24th at 10:30 a.m. Central Time. Jason Knight, Director of Strategic Accounts, and I will be covering market viability analysis and forecasting ROI over a specified planning period. We hope you can join us.

At Shared Imaging, we work with healthcare providers to understand the available data and thus the markets where you are looking to make an imaging investment. We analyze changing demographics, payer mixes, reimbursement, and much more to help you make a decision on whether the market will provide enough demand to support the technology over a specified planning period. Over years of doing this, we have learned some valuable market planning tips that we share below.

Big Data is a must

Assessing the following kinds of data will help us predict how the utilization of services are expected to change over the next few years:


  • Population Demographics: population growth and aging, Medicaid expansion, payer mix and other demographic shifts
  • Clinical Indications: change in diagnostic and treatment trends by clinical indication (i.e., lung, prostate, breast, heart, head/brain/neck, trauma)
  • Volume by Imaging Modality: CT, MRI, PET/CT, interventional radiology, digital radiography and breast imaging
  • Competition: Where patients are going to receive service

Having the right planning period is essential

The planning period is going to be somewhat arbitrary, taking into account current market uncertainty, pace of technology change, and your organization’s preferred timetable. With rapidly changing demographics and an uncertain healthcare market, a planning period of more than five years for an asset is not likely to be realistic. Things are simply changing too fast to confidently say that the asset you are procuring today will be the best asset for your needs 7+ years from now.

The U.S. population is getting older

Today, 46 million Americans are 65 and older. By 2060, this number is expected to more than double, reaching 98 million. The 65 and over population is expected to constitute 24% of our total population by 2060 (today it’s 15%).[i] An aging population means more utilization of services, and this is likely to manifest in your planning period. You must account for it.

Shifting payer mixes

Because the U.S. is getting older, not only will utilization of services change, but your market’s payer mix also is likely to significantly change over a planning period. (For example, more patients will be utilizing Medicare.) Consequently, your average reimbursement for a particular imaging procedure will also change. For purposes of long-term planning, it will be helpful to factor this in to ensure you have an adequate ROI for the technology.

Site of Service Analysis

Understanding current referral patterns and where patients are going for imaging procedures is critical to evaluating the viability of an imaging service line. We can assess whether patients in your market are going to a facility right across the street or are travelling to facilities outside of your market. If most of your patients are going right across this street, you may have more difficulty in gaining market share.

We follow a “clinical demand forecasting” process with these types of data when we are assessing market viability for an imaging technology because we believe that your success is our success. We want to make sure that your imaging solution serves you for as long as you need it and in a location where it will be best utilized.

i Mather, Mark. “Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States.” Population Reference Bureau, Population Reference Bureau, 2016,