Global ultrasound sales improve during third-quarter

Ultrasound Imaging

It is estimated that global revenues from ultrasound solutions declined by a mid-single-digit (e.g. -6.5%) during the third quarter, relative to Q3 2019. Some OEMs reported increased sales activity for non-COVID related products, although sales remain lower for the year. It is estimated that cumulative sales declined by a low-double-digit (e.g. -14%) during the first nine months of 2020.

The sales contraction during the quarter and first nine months was driven by lower sales of traditional cart-based ultrasound systems, which were partially offset by higher sales of compact and handheld systems. OEMs such as GE, Philips and Fujifilm SonoSite 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. For example, Philips report strong demand for its handheld Lumify and portable CX50 products which can be easily placed within reach of Coronavirus patients.

In contrast, OEMs including GE, Philips, Canon, Samsung and SuperSonic Imagine reported lower demand for cart-based systems, particularly for premium-end products across cardiovascular, women’s health and specialist applications. Sales within these segments were negatively 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 revenues declines of up to -50% within some markets. For example, for the first half of 2020, SuperSonic Imagine reported a sales contraction -48% from China, which marginally improved to -42% during the third-quarter[1]. Samsung Medison reported a sales contraction of approximately -6% during the quarter from its ultrasound portfolio resulting in a cumulative sales decline of approximately -16% year-on-year.[2]

Although installation volumes and sales were negatively impacted, some OEMs reported strengthening order books during the third quarter, indicating that the decrease in ultrasound business is temporary and entirely driven by the pandemic situation. In October, GE announced its largest-ever ultrasound deal in the United States, which is an USD $11m order to install 76 units. Siemens also announced a ten-year ‘Value Partnership’ with Klinikum Lippe GmbH valued at approximately EUR €30m which encompasses the replacement of 147 units, including ultrasound.

Despite lower sales activity, OEMs continued with their product launches, R&D initiatives and capital raises. In terms of new product launches, during July, Hologic entered the ultrasound cart market through launching its first premium cart-based ultrasound system, the SuperSonic™ MACH 40. The system is targeted toward breast screening and includes shear wave-based elastography technology which is anticipated to improve the detection of breast lesions, lesion size measurement as well as lesion targeting during an ultrasound-guided biopsy. During September, GE launched its Voluson SWIFT platform, an AI-enhanced ultrasound system for women’s health. The solution promises to reduce scan times by as much as 45% as well as automate exam measurements. In October, GE subsequently received FDA for its Vivid™ Ultra Edition, an AI-enhanced cardiovascular ultrasound system. This enables the deployment of its AI technology across its Vivid cardiovascular ultrasound portfolio. Keeping on the theme of software, earlier in the year, ContextVision launched its latest generation 2D ultrasound software solution, Rivent, which it will be exhibiting at RSNA 2020. Rivent offers optimized image quality, creating an image approaching the sharpness found in MRI images.

In terms of capital raises, money flowed during the quarter. In August, Exo, the developer of handheld ultrasonic technology, raised USD $40 million in a Series B funding round in order to help fund its research and product development activities. This round brought the company’s total capital raised to nearly USD $100 million. In July, Caption Health, the developer of AI-driven ultrasound technology, raised $53 million in a Series B funding round.

Extract from Global Market Sales Report


[1] SuperSonic Imagine, Q2 and Q3 2020 financial results

[2] Samsung Medison, Q3 2020 financial results