Healthcare resource statistics - technical resources and medical technology

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Data extracted in September 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: January 2019.

This article presents an overview of European Union (EU) statistics related to the availability of technical facilities as well as the availability and use of medical technology. The technical facilities presented include operating theatres and day care places, while the medical technology concerns a variety of equipment used for diagnostic imaging (for example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) units) and treatment (for example, radiation therapy equipment).

This article is one of a set of statistical articles concerning healthcare resources in the EU which forms part of an online publication on health statistics.

Table 1: Availability of technical resources in hospitals, 2015
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_tech)
Figure 1: Technical resources — hospital operating theatres, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_tech)
Table 2: Availability of medical technology — imaging equipment, 2015
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 2: Availability of imaging equipment — computer tomography (CT) scanners, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 3: Availability of imaging equipment — magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) units, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 4: Availability of imaging equipment — gamma cameras, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 5: Availability of imaging equipment — angiography units, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 6: Availability of imaging equipment — mammography units, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 7: Availability of imaging equipment — PET scanners, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Table 3: Availability of medical technology — treatment equipment, 2015
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 8: Availability of treatment equipment — lithotriptors, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 9: Availability of treatment equipment — radiation therapy equipment, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Table 4: Use of imaging equipment, 2015
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_exam) and (hlth_rs_equip)
Figure 10: Use of imaging equipment — number of computed tomography (CT) scans, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_exam)
Figure 11: Use of imaging equipment — number of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_exam)
Figure 12: Use of imaging equipment — number of PET scans, 2010 and 2015
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_exam)

Main statistical findings

Availability of technical resources in hospitals

Table 1 provides information concerning the number of day care places in hospitals for 17 of the 28 EU Member States in 2015. It should be noted that not all day care services are provided in hospitals and some may also be offered in other healthcare facilities, such as independent day care centres or ambulatory premises, but these are not covered by the data presented here. Among those Member States for which data are available, by far the highest number of day care places was recorded in France (73 thousand places; 2014 data), followed by Germany (28 thousand), Spain (18 thousand), Italy (16 thousand) and the United Kingdom (15 thousand).

Relative to population size, France had the highest number of day care places among the EU Member States

Relative to population size, the number of day care places in hospitals was highest in France, with 110 places per 100 000 inhabitants in 2014. Three other EU Member States reported more than 80 day care places per 100 000 inhabitants: Slovakia (also 2014 data), Croatia and Latvia (both 2015 data).

Table 1 provides further information on four specialisations for day care places in hospitals: note that the sum of the number of day care places for these four specialisations may not equal the total if the specialisation of all places cannot be determined. In 2015, most day care places in hospitals in Germany, France and Croatia were for psychiatric care, while in Belgium, Italy, Romania and Slovakia day care in hospitals was mainly focused on surgery (across the four specialisations for which data are shown). In Spain, almost half of the total number of day care places in hospitals were for oncology — the treatment/care of cancer patients.

Table 1 also provides information on the number of operating theatres in hospitals for 18 of the EU Member States. In 2015 and relative to population size, the number of operating theatres in hospitals ranged from 5.2 per 100 000 inhabitants in Ireland to 11.9 per 100 000 inhabitants in Belgium, with Austria below this range (3.4 per 100 000 inhabitants) and Cyprus and Latvia above it (14.4 and 14.8 per 100 000 inhabitants respectively).

Figure 1 shows the same ratio of the number of operating theatres in hospitals per 100 000 inhabitants, with a comparison between 2010 and 2015. The availability of operating theatres relative to population size decreased in four of the EU Member States during this period: the United Kingdom, Malta, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg (which recorded the largest reduction, equivalent to -1.3 operating theatres per 100 000 inhabitants). There was a marginal increase in the number of hospital operating theatres per 100 000 inhabitants in Austria between 2010 and 2015, while increases of 0.1-1.0 theatres per 100 000 inhabitants were registered in Italy, Ireland (2011-2015), Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Slovenia. The availability of hospital operating theatres grew at a somewhat faster pace in Poland and Romania, while the most significant increases were recorded in Latvia, where the number of operating theatres per 100 000 inhabitants rose from 9.1 to 14.8; as such, Latvia recorded the highest ratio among the EU Member States for this indicator.

Availability of medical technology

Eurostat collects data concerning eight types of medical technology, six of which are imaging equipment used for diagnosis (see Table 2), while two are for treatment (see Table 3).

Widespread increase in the availability of imaging equipment over several decades

The availability of equipment for diagnosis increased rapidly in most EU Member States over recent decades. For example, in Finland the number of computed tomography (CT) scanners in hospitals was 118 in 2015, compared with just seven CT scanners some 35 years earlier, while in Hungary the number of CT scanners in hospitals and providers of ambulatory health care increased from 3 to 83 over the same period. In the 20 years between 1995 and 2015 the number of MRI units in hospitals and providers of ambulatory health care increased in the Czech Republic from 10 to 88, while in the Netherlands it rose from 13 in 1990 to 212 in 2015. More recently, there has been a notable increase in the number of positron emission tomography (PET) scanner units, for example, their number increased in France from 9 in 2000 to 130 in 2015.

Relative to population size and subject to data availability (see Table 2 for data availability), Greece (2013 data), Cyprus, Italy and Finland reported the most imaging equipment among the EU Member States in 2015; note that data are not available for all six types of imaging equipment in several of the Member States.

Denmark, Latvia, Germany, Greece (2013 data), Cyprus, Bulgaria and Italy reported at least 3.0 CT scanners per 100 000 inhabitants in 2015 (see Figure 2 for data availability), with 1.0 or fewer scanners per 100 000 inhabitants in the United Kingdom (2014 data) and Hungary. Between 2010 and 2015, the availability of CT scanners increased by 1.0 units per 100 000 inhabitants in Denmark and Belgium (hospitals only; note there is a break in series), while the rate of change was almost as high in Portugal (hospitals only); there was however a reduction in the number of CT scanners per 100 000 inhabitants in Croatia, Austria, Luxembourg and Malta (note there is a break in series), in part due to increases in the population but also due to a reduction in the absolute number of scanners in three out of the four (there was no change in the overall number of scanners in Austria).

Germany, Italy, Finland, Greece (2010 data), Austria and Cyprus each reported at least 2.0 MRI units per 100 000 inhabitants in 2015, with 0.5 or fewer units per 100 000 inhabitants in Romania and Hungary (see Figure 3 for data availability). Between 2010 and 2015, the largest increases in the availability of MRI units were recorded in Germany, Finland, France (note there is a break in series) and Italy, where the number of MRI units per 100 000 inhabitants rose by at least 0.6 units. Luxembourg was the only EU Member State reporting a slight decrease for this ratio; however, the reduction could be attributed to an increase in population numbers, rather than a reduction in the number of actual units.

Among the EU Member States (see Figure 4 for data availability), the highest number of gamma cameras relative to population size in 2015 was recorded in Belgium (hospitals only), at 2.6 units per 100 000 inhabitants. With the exception of Denmark (2013 data), Greece (also 2013 data) and Luxembourg, the availability of gamma cameras in Belgium was more than twice as high as in any of the other Member States. Between 2010 and 2015 there were increases of 0.4 gamma cameras per 100 000 inhabitants in Croatia and 0.2 gamma cameras per 100 000 inhabitants in France (note there is a break in series). The vast majority of Member States for which data are available recorded almost no change in the availability of gamma cameras (changes of no more than +/-0.1 units per 100 000 inhabitants), although there were larger reductions recorded in Cyprus and Slovakia (both -0.2 gamma cameras per 100 000 inhabitants), Italy and the Netherlands (both -0.3), Belgium (hospitals only) and Luxembourg (both -0.4), as well as Malta (note there is a break in series), where there was a reduction of 0.5 gamma camera units per 100 000 inhabitants.

Luxembourg and Croatia recorded the highest number of angiography units relative to their population size in 2015, 1.6 units per 100 000 inhabitants in 2015, closely followed by Finland (1.5 units per 100 000 inhabitants) and Italy (1.4 units). The lowest ratios of angiography units to population were recorded in Estonia (0.5 units per 100 000 inhabitants) and Romania (0.4 units). Between 2010 and 2015, the availability of angiography units increased in most of the EU Member States, with reductions in 6 of the 21 for which data are available (see Figure 5 for data availability), most notably in Finland (-0.8 units per 100 000 inhabitants).

Greece (6.0 mammography units per 100 000 inhabitants; 2013 data) and Cyprus (5.1 mammography units per 100 000 inhabitants) reported the highest number of mammography units relative to population size in 2015, while the number of mammography units per 100 000 inhabitants was also relatively high — within the range of 3.0-3.4 units per 100 000 inhabitants — in Italy, Malta, Croatia, Finland and Bulgaria (see Figure 6 for data availability). By contrast, there were no more than 1.0 mammography units per 100 000 inhabitants in the United Kingdom (2010 data), Romania and France (hospitals only). The largest increase in the availability of mammography units between 2010 and 2015 was recorded in Bulgaria (2011-2015), while the largest decreases were registered in Luxembourg and Malta (note there is a break in series).

PET scanners are generally the least widely available of the six types of imaging equipment presented in this article. In absolute terms (see Table 2 for data availability), Italy had the most PET scanners, some 185 units in 2015, followed by France (130) and Germany (125; hospitals only). In 2015 and relative to population size (see Figure 7 for data availability), Denmark (2013 data) and Malta reported 0.6 and 0.5 PET scanners per 100 000 inhabitants respectively, while all of the other EU Member States for which data are available reported ratios of 0.4 units per 100 000 inhabitants or less. Between 2010 and 2015, the availability of PET scanners remained relatively unchanged in most of the Member States, the biggest change was an increase of 0.2 scanners per 100 000 inhabitants in Malta.

The final two pieces of medical technology presented in this article concern lithotriptors and radiation therapy equipment, as shown in Table 3. These two types of treatment equipment were generally less commonly available than the previously discussed imaging equipment.

In absolute terms, the highest number of lithotriptors among the EU Member States for which data are available (see Table 3 for data availability) was registered in Germany (326 units; hospitals only), followed by Poland (192 units) and France (132 units; hospitals only).Bulgaria (0.98 units per 100 000 inhabitants) and Belgium (0.87 units; hospitals only) reported the highest number of lithotripter units relative to their population size in 2015, while the lowest ratios were recorded in Finland (0.06 units; 2013 data) and Latvia (0.05 units).

Between 2010 and 2015, the availability of lithotripter units (see Figure 8 for data availability) increased by 0.4 units per 100 000 inhabitants in Belgium (hospitals only) and by 0.2 units per 100 000 inhabitants in Cyprus and Malta. Luxembourg, France (hospitals only; note there is a break in series) and Portugal (hospitals only) recorded modest decreases in their number of lithotripter units per 100 000 inhabitants between 2010 and 2015, while Slovenia (-0.2 units per 100 000 inhabitants; 2009-2015) recorded the biggest decline for this ratio.

Belgium (hospitals only), Denmark, Slovakia, Finland and France (hospitals only) were the only EU Member States (see Figure 9 for data availability) to report more than 1.00 radiation therapy units per 100 000 inhabitants in 2015, while the lowest rates for this type of equipment were recorded in Poland, Portugal (hospitals only), Latvia, Estonia and Romania, all with 0.4 units per 100 000 inhabitants. A majority (17) of the 25 Member States for which data are available reported an increase in their respective number of radiation therapy units relative to population size between 2010 and 2015. The highest increases were recorded in Bulgaria (2011-2015), Luxembourg, Belgium (hospitals only), Lithuania and Croatia (where the biggest increase was recorded, an additional 0.6 radiation therapy units per 100 000 inhabitants). Among the eight Member States that reported a decline for this ratio between 2010 and 2015, the reductions were all relatively small, with losses never greater than the decline of -0.1 units per 100 000 inhabitants that was recorded in Romania.

Use of medical technology

Table 4 presents data on the use of three types of imaging equipment. In 2015, the largest numbers of CT scans, in absolute terms, were performed in France (13.2 million) and Germany (11.6 million; 2014 data). France also recorded the highest number of PET scans (270 thousand; hospitals only), followed by Spain (132 thousand). By contrast, the highest number of MRI scans was conducted in Germany (10.6 million; 2014 data), ahead of France (7.0 million in 2015).

The number of CT scans relative to population size increased for all but two of the EU Member States

Relative to the size of their respective populations, the EU Member States with the highest number of CT scans in 2015 included Luxembourg (20.8 thousand scans per 100 000 inhabitants), Belgium and France (both with just less than 20.0 thousand scans). For the remaining Member States (see Figure 10 for data availability) this ratio ranged from 5.1 thousand scans per 100 000 inhabitants in Bulgaria to 15.6 thousand scans per 100 000 inhabitants in Slovakia, with Finland and Romania below this range and Denmark, Portugal (hospitals only) and Latvia above it. Between 2010 and 2015, nearly all of the Member States for which data are available reported an increase in the number of CT scans they conducted relative to the size of their respective populations. The highest increases — in excess of four thousand scans per 100 000 inhabitants — were recorded in Portugal (hospitals only), Latvia, Denmark (note there is a break in series), France and Slovakia. The largest decrease in the number of scans per 100 000 inhabitants was recorded in Estonia, while Austria (note there is a break in series) was the only other Member State to report a reduction.

In 2015, the most intensive use of CT scanners (as measured by the average number of scans per machine) was recorded in Luxembourg, France and Hungary; in each of these, there were more than 10 thousand scans performed by each CT scanner (see Table 4 for data availability). The least intensive use of CT scanner units was recorded in Bulgaria, Finland and Romania, each with an average of less than 2.2 thousand scans per CT scanner.

In 2015, the highest numbers of MRI scans relative to population numbers were recorded in Germany (2014 data) and France, where the number of scans per 100 000 inhabitants was higher than 10 000. In Greece (2008 data), Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark and Spain, there were in excess of 7.5 thousand MRI scans per 100 000 inhabitants (see Figure 11 for data availability). At the other end of the range, the lowest ratios were recorded for Cyprus and Bulgaria, below 1.0 thousand scans per 100 000 inhabitants. Of the 21 Member States for which data are available, there was generally an increase between 2010 and 2015 in the number of MRI scans conducted relative to population size; the only exception to this pattern was Bulgaria, where this ratio fell from 797 to 633 scans per 100 000 inhabitants. By contrast, there were five EU Member States where the number of MRI scans relative to population size increased by 2 100-2 700 scans — Latvia, Denmark (note there is a break in series), Slovakia, Germany (2010-2014) and Lithuania — while the largest increase was recorded in France (4 500 additional scans per 100 000 inhabitants).

Hungary had the most intensive use of MRI scanners

The most intensive use of MRI units was in Hungary, where an average of 10.7 thousand scans was performed by each MRI unit in 2015 (see Table 4 for data availability). This was considerably higher than in France, which recorded the second highest level of intensity (8.4 thousand scans per unit). At the other end of the range, Cyprus made the least intensive use of its MRI scanners, as each unit was used on average 343 times during the course of 2015; Bulgaria was the only other EU Member State to record an average of less than 1 000 scans per MRI unit.

Relative to population size the most PET scans were performed in Denmark

In 2015, Denmark recorded by far the highest number of PET scans per 100 000 inhabitants among any of the EU Member States (see Figure 12 for data availability), with an average of 740 scans per 100 000 inhabitants; the next highest ratio was 458 PET scans per 100 000 inhabitants in the Netherlands (2014 data). The use of PET scans was particularly low in Lithuania, Romania and Cyprus, where there were fewer than 50 scans per 100 000 inhabitants; note that Cyprus did not have any PET scanning equipment.

Between 2010 and 2015, Denmark also recorded the largest increase in its number of PET scans relative to population size, up by 323 scans per 100 000 inhabitants. The next highest increases in the use of PET scans during the period under consideration were registered in the Netherlands (2010-2014) and France (hospitals only), while the number of scans relative to population size increased for each of the remaining Member States for which data are available (excluding Cyprus, where there was no change as a result of there being no PET scanning equipment).

The most intensive use of PET scanners was in Hungary and the Czech Republic, where an average of 3.9 thousand and 3.1 thousand scans were performed by each PET scanner in 2015 (see Table 4 for data availability); PET scanners were also used relatively intensely in France and Austria (hospitals only for both countries), as well as Luxembourg, where an average of at least 2.2 thousand scans were made by each unit. In Estonia, Germany (hospitals only) and Finland each PET scanner was used, on average, for less than 400 scans during the course of 2015.

Data sources and availability

Key concepts

Operating theatres (also known as operating rooms or suites) are hospital facilities for conducting surgical procedures in a sterile environment.

Day care does not involve an overnight stay. By contrast to in-patient and out-patient care, day care comprises planned medical and paramedical services delivered to patients who have been formally admitted for diagnosis, treatment or other types of health care but with the intention to discharge the patient on the same day. While day care patients are formally admitted, out-patients are not formally admitted.

Day care places in hospitals include the number of day care beds and seats in hospitals. Four types of specialisation of day care places are presented: surgical day care places; oncological day care places; psychiatric day care places and geriatric day care places. The sum of the number of day care places for these four specialisations may not equal the total if the specialisation of all places cannot be determined.

Computed tomography scanners (CT or CAT units) are machines which combine many X-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body.

Magnetic resonance imaging units (MRI units) visualise internal structures of the body using magnetic and electromagnetic fields which induce a resonance effect of hydrogen atoms from which images of the body structures can be produced.

Positron emission tomography scanner units (PET scanners) use short-lived radioactive substances for highly specialised imaging. This produces three dimensional images which are used mainly for the assessment of cancer spread in a patient’s body.

Gamma cameras (including single photon emission computed tomography, SPECT) are used for a nuclear medicine procedure in which a camera rotates around the patient to register gamma ray emissions from an isotope injected to the patient’s body. The gathered data are processed to form a cross-sectional (tomographic) image.

Digital subtraction angiography units (DSA units) combine pictures obtained before and after a contrast injection to create an accurate image of the cardiovascular system.

Mammography units include only dedicated mammography machines, in other words those designed exclusively for taking mammograms.

Lithotriptors (or shock-wave lithotripsy units; LSI units) are units that provide an extracorporeal shock wave to shatter kidney stones and gallstones.

Radiation therapy equipment includes machines providing medical treatment through the use of X-rays or radionuclides, for example linear accelerators, Cobalt-60 units, high dose and low dose rate brachytherapy units; these units often form part of the treatment for cancer patients.

Healthcare resources and activities

Statistics on healthcare resources (such as technical resources and medical technology) are documented in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

The data on the availability of medical technology concern equipment in hospitals and in ambulatory health care facilities. For some EU Member States, notably Belgium, Germany and Portugal, the data only cover the availability of this equipment in hospitals; for particular types of equipment this is also the case for France and Switzerland.

Data on the use of imaging equipment also concern units available in hospitals and in ambulatory health care facilities. Again, for some EU Member States (Germany, Ireland, Austria, Portugal and the United Kingdom) the data only cover hospitals, as is also the case for France for the use of PET scanners.

More detailed country specific notes on this data collection, please refer to these background information documents:

Note on tables: the symbol ':' is used to show where data are not available.

Note on tables: the symbol '–' is used to show where data are not applicable.

Context

Developments in medical techniques and technologies impact on medical diagnosis and treatment. The data on medical technology presented in this article concern equipment for diagnosis or treatment. After the discovery of X-rays, there was a relatively rapid transition before they started to be used for medical diagnosis of internal organs and body structures. Technological advances have subsequently led to the introduction of various other diagnostic devices, such as gamma cameras (developed to detect tumours) or ultrasound images. These were followed, among others, by PET scanners, MRI equipment and CT scanners.

One issue associated with the X-rays (and gamma rays) used in several of these types of equipment is exposure to ionising radiation, as this carries a risk of developmental problems and cancer. By contrast, MRI scans use magnetic and electromagnetic fields, rather than X-rays, and so avoid these risks.

The European core health indicators (ECHI) shortlist includes indicators on medical technologies for MRI and CT units in the chapter on health services.

See also

Online publications

Healthcare resources

Methodology

General health statistics articles

Further Eurostat information

Main tables

Database

Health care resources (hlth_res)
Health care facilities (hlth_facil)
Technical resources in hospital (hlth_rs_tech)
Medical technology (hlth_rs_equip)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links