Global ultrasound sales in 2020

Ultrasound Imaging

The Coronavirus pandemic was a dominant factor driving the demand for diagnostic ultrasound imaging systems during 2020. The pandemic contributed toward lower aggregate capital spending on new ultrasound equipment as planned installations were delayed and healthcare systems temporarily paused capital spending. On a constant currency basis, it is estimated that total global revenues from the sale of new ultrasound imaging systems contracted by a low-double-digit during 2020, compared with 2019. On a comparable currency basis, it is estimated that global revenues also contracted by a low-double-digit due to a marginal +0.1% currency tailwind as the US dollar depreciated against the Euro, Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen and Korean Won. Revenues from recurring maintenance and services had a stabilising effect on global sales as lower revenue was led by lower equipment demand. On a constant currency basis, it is estimated that total global revenues from ultrasound imaging solutions (equipment & service) contracted by a high-single-digit during 2020, compared with 2019.

From a product segment perspective, the sales contraction during 2020 was driven by lower demand for cart-based systems, partially offset by higher demand for compact and handheld point-of-care systems. OEMs including GE, Philips, Canon, Samsung and SuperSonic Imagine reported lower demand for cart-based systems, particularly for premium solutions across cardiovascular, women’s health and specialist applications. Sales within these segments were significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic as customers deferred purchasing decisions and OEMs were unable to install against orders due to public health measures, travel restrictions and hospitals prioritising the pandemic response. Some of the worst affected OEMs reported revenue declines of over 50% in some quarters and end markets. For example, SuperSonic Imagine reported an annualised net sales contraction of -35% with a -52% decline occurring during the fourth quarter. From a geographical perspective, SuperSonic Imagine reported an annualised sales contraction of -60%, -44% and -29% across America, China and the EMEA respectively.

In contrast, sales of compact and handheld point-of-care systems grew strongly during 2020. OEMs including GE, Philips, Fujifilm SonoSite and Butterfly Network reported strong demand for compact and handheld solutions as healthcare systems responded to the Coronavirus pandemic through selecting systems that can be used at the point-of-care as well as within ICU and ER settings. The pandemic served as a tailwind for the continued adoption of handheld technology by healthcare providers. Fujifilm SonoSite reported strong sales of its SonoSite Edge II and SonoSite PX systems. Its PX system is a “high-end” ultrasound system launched in the U.S. in July 2020 and subsequently in Europe in August 2020. Philips Healthcare reported strong demand for its handheld Lumify and portable CX50 products. Butterfly Network reported 2020 revenues of $46.3m, compared with $27.6m in 2019, a year-over-year increase of +68%.

Global market short-term outlook

It is anticipated that uncertainty in demand will continue into 2021 and some OEMs are working on a baseline scenario that the global market for new diagnostic ultrasound systems will not fully normalise until 2022. During 2020, there was little evidence that the pandemic resulted in a widespread cancellation of equipment orders and it is estimated that the global equipment order backlog increased by a mid-single-digit on a constant currency basis. A higher-order backlog is a strong precursor for sales growth as global healthcare operations normalise. The sales activity during 2021 is likely to be characterised by a drop-off in demand for COVID-related solutions combined with recovering demand for non-COVID related solutions. It is anticipated that the demand for compact and handheld systems will moderate in the short-term although underlying demand is anticipated to remain strong in the medium-term as healthcare systems continue to adopt handheld technology. In addition, it is anticipated that the sales of cart-based ultrasound diagnostic systems adversely impacted by the pandemic will experience double-digit sales growth as demand increases against weaker comparable sales data.

Sales results sample:

Ultrasound Research Products & Services