Healthcare resource statistics - technical resources and medical technology
Data extracted in July 2022.
Planned article update: September 2023.
Relative to population size, France had the highest number of day care places in 2020 among the EU Member States, at 119 per 100 000 inhabitants.
In 2020, Hungary had the most intensive use of CT and MRI scanners among the EU Member States, with averages of 18 200 and 9 100 scans performed by each unit.
Relative to population size, more PET (positron emission tomography) scans were performed in 2020 in Denmark than in any other EU Member State, at 1 400 scans per 100 000 inhabitants.
Use of imaging equipment – number of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, 2020
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 day care places and operating theatres, 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.
It should be noted that data are presented in this article for 2020: for the first time, this article includes data that show an impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions. For this reason, particular attention should be paid when comparing the 2020 data with data from earlier years.
In some EU Member States, healthcare resources were placed under intense pressure (particularly at the start of the pandemic) from an influx of patients with COVID-19. The pandemic also resulted in a range of knock-on effects including, among others, some services being curtailed/postponed due to the number of COVID-19 patients, staff shortages within hospitals and day care centres due to infection/quarantine procedures, and patients being hindered accessing medical services due to their own infection/quarantine as well as lockdown or travel restrictions.
Availability of technical resources in hospitals
Table 1 provides information concerning the number of day care places in hospitals in 2020 for 20 of the 27 EU Member States. 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 the Member States for which data are available, by far the highest number of day care places was recorded in France (80 000 places), followed by Germany (31 700), Spain (20 300), Italy (12 400) and Belgium (11 800).
Relative to population size, France had the highest number of day care places among the EU Member States
France also had the highest number of day care places in hospitals relative to population size, with 119 places per 100 000 inhabitants in 2020. Belgium also reported more than 100 day care places per 100 000 inhabitants, while in Croatia and Slovakia the ratio was over 90 places per 100 000 inhabitants.
Table 1 also provides information on the number of operating theatres in hospitals for 19 of the EU Member States; these data are also shown – relative to population size – in Figure 1. In 2020, the number of operating theatres in hospitals ranged in most Member States from 5.4 per 100 000 inhabitants in Ireland to 11.6 per 100 000 inhabitants in Belgium. Austria was below this range (4.7 per 100 000 inhabitants; note that there is incomplete coverage) while France (15.8 per 100 000 inhabitants) and Cyprus (16.0 per 100 000 inhabitants; 2019 data) were above it.
Availability of medical technology
Eurostat collects data concerning six types of medical technology, five of which are imaging equipment used for diagnosis, while one is for treatment (see Table 2).
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 Hungary the number of computed tomography (CT) scanners in hospitals and providers of ambulatory health care was 94 in 2020, compared with just three CT scanners some 34 years earlier (in 1986). In the 29 years between 1991 and 2020, the number of MRI units in hospitals and providers of ambulatory health care increased in Czechia from 2 to 118; in Finland it rose from one in 1984 to 169 on 2020 (this rose further to 171 in 2021) and in the Netherlands from 13 in 1986 to 233 in 2020. 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 five in 2002 to 183 in 2020.
Based on the data available in Table 2, the most common types of medical technology (among those presented) in the EU in 2020 were CT scanners (around 10 400), MRI units (more than 7 500) and mammography units (around 7 300). Gamma cameras and radiation therapy equipment (each more than 3 000) and PET scanners (around 1 000) were less common.
In 2020, among the EU Member States Italy had the highest number across four of the six types of equipment shown in Table 2; the exceptions were for gamma cameras where Germany had the most, and for radiation therapy equipment where France had the highest number. Figures 2 to 7 present the availability of these types of equipment relative to population size. Note that changes in the ratios relative to population size reflect not only the number of pieces of equipment, but also changes in the number of inhabitants.
Greece, Denmark and Bulgaria, reported more than 4.0 CT scanners per 100 000 inhabitants in 2020 (see Figure 2 for data availability), while Hungary had the lowest number of CT scanners relative to its population (1.0 per 100 000 inhabitants; note that there is incomplete coverage).
Between 2010 and 2020, the availability of CT scanners increased by 1.0 units per 100 000 inhabitants or more in Denmark, Romania, Lithuania, Greece, Bulgaria and Belgium (note the change in definition). By contrast, there were slight falls in the number of CT scanners per 100 000 inhabitants in Austria and Luxembourg; falls were also observed in Finland and Malta, but for both there is a break in series.
Greece, Italy and Finland each reported more than 3.0 MRI units per 100 000 inhabitants in 2020 (see Figure 3 for data availability). By contrast, there were 1.0 MRI units per 100 000 inhabitants in Portugal (hospitals only) and Slovakia and 0.5 MRI units per 100 000 inhabitants in Hungary (note again that there is incomplete coverage).
Between 2010 and 2020, the largest increases in the availability of MRI units relative to population size were recorded in Finland, Greece and Lithuania, where the number of MRI units per 100 000 inhabitants rose by at least 1.0 units per 100 000 inhabitants. None of the EU Member States reported a decrease for this ratio.
Among the EU Member States (see Figure 4 for data availability), the highest number of gamma cameras relative to population size was recorded in Belgium, at 2.7 units per 100 000 inhabitants. With the exceptions of Denmark and Cyprus, the availability of gamma cameras in Belgium was more than twice as high as in any of the other Member States.
Between 2010 and 2020, there were small increases in the number of gamma cameras per 100 000 inhabitants in eight EU Member States. These increases only exceeded 0.1 per 100 000 inhabitants in France and Poland, both of which have a break in series. Five Member States for which data are available recorded a change in the availability of gamma cameras that was less than +/-0.1 units per 100 000 inhabitants. A total of 13 Member States recorded falls of at least 0.1 units per 100 000 inhabitants, with the largest decrease in Luxembourg (down 0.7 units per 100 000 inhabitants).
Greece (6.9 units per 100 000 inhabitants) and Cyprus (5.8 units per 100 000 inhabitants) reported the highest number of mammography units relative to population size in 2020. The number of mammography units was also relatively high – within the range of 3.1–3.6 units per 100 000 inhabitants – in Belgium, Italy, Croatia, Malta, Bulgaria and Finland (see Figure 5 for data availability). By contrast, there were fewer than 1.0 mammography units per 100 000 inhabitants in Romania, France (hospitals only) and Germany (hospitals only).
The largest increases in the availability of mammography units between 2010 and 2020 were recorded in Greece, Bulgaria (2011–2020) and Cyprus, while the largest decreases were registered in Luxembourg and Malta (note that there is a break in series for the latter).
In 2020, PET scanners were generally the least widely available of the six types of imaging equipment presented in this article. Relative to population size (see Figure 6 for data availability), Denmark reported over 0.8 PET scanners per 100 000 inhabitants, while all of the other EU Member States for which data are available reported ratios of 0.5 units per 100 000 inhabitants or less.
Between 2010 and 2020, the availability of PET scanners increased or remained relatively unchanged in all of the EU Member States. The biggest increases were in Denmark (2011–2020) and the Netherlands.
Belgium (2017 data) and Denmark reported the highest rate of radiation therapy units per 100 000 inhabitants in 2020, 1.8 and 1.3 respectively (see Figure 7 for data availability). The lowest rate for this type of equipment was recorded in Romania, 0.4 units per 100 000 inhabitants.
A majority (19) of the 25 EU Member States for which data are available reported an increase in their number of radiation therapy units relative to population size between 2010 and 2020. The highest increases were recorded in Bulgaria (2011–2020), Croatia and Luxembourg, each with an additional 0.4 radiation therapy units per 100 000 inhabitants. Four EU Member States recorded no change (+/-0.1 units per 100 000 inhabitants) in this ratio between 2010 and 2020, while Romania and Czechia reported declines.
Use of medical technology
Table 3 presents data on the use of three types of imaging equipment. Note that during 2020 the burden on healthcare providers from the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused a reduction in non-COVID-19 related activities and consequently a less intensive use of imaging equipment. Incomplete aggregates for the EU Member States for which 2019 and 2020 data are available (hospitals only for Portugal; excluding Ireland, France, Cyprus and Sweden) show a 6.5 % decrease in the number of CT scans, a 7.2 % decrease in the number of MRI images and a 2.4 % decrease in the number of PET scans. The 2019 data for Cyprus and France shown in Table 3 and subsequent figures (due to the current non-availability of 2020 data) should be seen in this context.
In 2020, the largest numbers of scans, in absolute terms, for two of the three types of equipment were performed in France (2019 data). For CT scanners, there were 13.4 million scans in France, with the next highest numbers in Germany (12.5 million), Spain (5.4 million) and Italy (5.2 million). For PET scanners, there were 638 000 scans in France, with Italy recording the next highest number, 276 000 scans. For MRI units, there were 12.5 million scans in Germany compared with 8.3 million scans in France, 4.0 million in Spain and 3.8 million in Italy.
Hungary had the most intensive use of CT and MRI scanners
In 2020, the most intensive use of CT scanners (as measured by the average number of scans per machine) was recorded in Hungary (note that there is incomplete coverage), with 18 200 scans per CT scanner (see Table 3 for data availability). Portugal (hospitals only) and France (2019 data) also recorded ratios in excess of 10 000 scans per CT scanner. By contrast, the least intensive uses of CT scanner units were recorded in Romania and Bulgaria, where the average use in 2020 was less than 2 000 scans per CT scanner.
The most intensive use of MRI units was also in Hungary (again note that there is incomplete coverage), where an average of 9 100 scans were performed per MRI unit in 2020. This was more than 1 000 scans per MRI unit higher than in France (2019 data), which recorded the second highest level of intensity (an average of 8 000 scans per MRI unit). At the other end of the range, Cyprus made the least intensive use of its MRI scanners in 2020, an average of just over 300 scans per MRI unit, considerably less frequent than in Bulgaria (just over 900 scans per MRI unit) which had the second lowest average.
The most intensive use of PET scanners was in France, where an average of 3 800 scans were performed by each PET scanner in 2019; PET scanners were also used relatively intensively in Luxembourg (an average of 3 400 scans per PET scanner). In six EU Member States, an average of fewer than 1 000 scans were made by each PET scanner, with this average below 500 per scanner in Latvia, Germany (hospitals only), Slovenia and Finland.
Relative to the size of their respective populations, the EU Member States with the highest number of CT scans in 2020 were Portugal (20 600 scans per 100 000 inhabitants; hospitals only) and Belgium (20 500 scans per 100 000 inhabitants) – see Figure 8 for data availability. This ratio was below 10 000 scans per 100 000 inhabitants in six Member States, including Finland and Romania where it was below 5 000 scans per 100 000 inhabitants.
The number of CT scans relative to population size increased for nearly all EU Member States
Between 2010 and 2020, nearly all of the EU 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 only exception was Greece. The largest increases – more than 8 000 additional scans per 100 000 inhabitants – were recorded in Portugal (hospitals only) and Denmark (note that there is a break in series). Two Member States – Luxembourg and Italy (2013–2020) – recorded increases of less than 1 000. In Greece, the ratio fell by 5 900 scans per 100 000 inhabitants between 2012 and 2020.
In 2020, the highest numbers of MRI scans relative to the size of the population were recorded in Germany and Austria, where the number of scans per 100 000 inhabitants was between 14 000 and 15 000 (see Figure 9 for data availability). France (2019 data) was the only other EU Member State where there were more than 10 000 MRI scans per 100 000 inhabitants. At the other end of the range, the lowest ratios were recorded for Romania, Bulgaria and particularly Cyprus (635 MRI scans per 100 000 inhabitants; 2019 data and definition differs).
Among the 21 EU Member States for which data are available, 19 recorded an increase between 2010 and 2020 in their number of MRI scans conducted relative to population size. The only exceptions to this development were Greece (2012–2020) and Italy (2013–2020). There were 13 Member States where the number of MRI scans relative to population size increased by more than 2 000 scans during the period under consideration. The largest increases were recorded in Slovenia where there were an additional 5 600 MRI scans per 100 000 inhabitants in 2020 compared with 2010 and France where there were 6 300 more MRI scans per 100 000 inhabitants in 2019 than in 2010 (note that there is a break in series).
The most PET scans relative to population size were performed in Denmark, France, Belgium and the Netherlands
In 2020, most notably Denmark but also France (2019 data), Belgium and the Netherlands recorded numbers of PET scans per 100 000 inhabitants that were higher than in the other EU Member States (see Figure 10 for data availability). The average for Denmark was 1 400 scans per 100 000 inhabitants, around 400 more than the corresponding figure for France and at least 2.5 times as many as in 20 of the other Member States. The use of PET scans was particularly low, in relative terms, in Finland, Latvia, Romania and Slovenia, where there were fewer than 100 PET scans per 100 000 inhabitants; note that Cyprus did not have any PET scans.
As well as having some of the highest numbers of PET scans relative to their populations, Denmark, the Netherlands, France (2010–2019) and Belgium (note that there is a break in series) reported the largest increases in PET scans between 2010 and 2020. The number of scans increased by 970 per 100 000 inhabitants in Denmark, by 520 per 100 000 inhabitants in the Netherlands and by 460 per 100 000 inhabitants in France. The number of scans relative to population size also increased for each of the remaining Member States for which data are available.
Source data for tables and graphs
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.
Operating theatres (also known as operating rooms or suites) are hospital facilities for conducting surgical procedures in a sterile environment.
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 into the patient’s body. The resulting data are processed to form a cross-sectional (tomographic) image.
Mammography units include only dedicated mammography machines, in other words those designed exclusively for taking mammograms.
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 and of imaging equipment concern equipment in hospitals and in ambulatory health care facilities. For some EU Member States, notably Germany and Portugal, the data only cover the availability of this equipment in hospitals; for particular types of equipment and/or their use this is also the case for France as well as for Switzerland.
More detailed country specific notes on this data collection are available as annexes to the metadata for health care resources.
Tables in this article use the following notation:
|Value in italics||estimate or provisional data;|
|Value is –||not relevant or not applicable;|
|Value is :||not available.|
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 other types of equipment, 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.
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