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Accelerated growth for medical electronics in 2014

16 Dec 2013

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A report from IC Insights has forecasted that global growth in medical electronics will exhibit strength in the next three years after a downturn since 2010 owing to weak global economy and efforts to reduce healthcare costs in the U.S. and Europe. The report predicts that medical electronics sales will grow 8 per cent to about $50.9 billion in 2014 after increasing just 3 per cent in 2013 to an estimated $47.3 billion. Sales of medical semiconductors are also expected to climb in 2014, rising 12 per cent to $4.9 billion after growing 7 per cent in 2013 to about $4.4 billion. Drivers for growth include wireless medical devices and sales in developing countries.

Between 2012 and 2017, worldwide sales of medical electronics are projected to rise by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3 per cent, reaching $65.4 billion in the final forecast year of the 2014 IC Market Drivers report. The brand new medical electronics section in the 475-page report shows semiconductor sales for healthcare systems applications rising by a CAGR of 10.5 per cent and reaching $6.8 billion in 2017.

In the years ahead, stronger growth in medical electronics will be fuelled by sales of less expensive diagnostic and imaging equipment in China and other developing country markets as well as the explosion of wireless mobile healthcare systems that monitor patients remotely and reduce the need for expensive stays in hospitals. The 2014 IC Market Drivers report forecasts wireless mobile medical systems and closely associated wearable fitness-tracking devices generating revenues of nearly $1.9 billion in 2014, which is a 53 per cent increase from about $1.2 billion in 2013, when worldwide sales grew 27 per cent.

Development trends in medical systems for hospitals, clinics, and doctor offices are heading in two different directions as equipment makers respond to growing pressures for lower costs and increased availability of healthcare in poor and developing countries. One trend is to make new medical diagnostic systems smaller and less expensive so that equipment can be used in the rooms of hospital patients, more clinics, and doctor offices versus the dedicated examination rooms in hospitals and imaging centres. Advancements in semiconductor sensors—many of them built with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology—wireless ICs, and system-on-chip (SoC) designs are also enabling new types of mobile medical devices that monitor patients and the elderly at home and then relay information to doctors or hospitals through wireless connections to cell phones or the Internet.

The other trend highlighted in the new IC Market Drivers report is the creation of more powerful and integrated systems, which are expensive but promise to lower healthcare costs by detecting cancer and diseases sooner while supporting less invasive surgery for quick recovery times and shorter stays in hospitals. Computer-assisted surgery systems, surgical robots, and operating-room automation are among new technologies being pursued by some hospitals in developed-country markets.

Developed countries (such as the U.S., Europe, and Japan) have about 18 per cent of the world's population, but account for nearly 80 per cent of total healthcare spending—approximately $5.3 billion versus $1.4 billion in 178 developing and poor countries during 2012. The world's ageing population in both developed and developing countries stands to greatly benefit from new wireless health-monitoring systems and telemedicine services that are aimed at reducing cost and serving more patients. While the large established markets have struggled in recent years, medical equipment sales have been booming in China, which is pursuing an ambitious initiative to significantly upgrade primary healthcare, hospitals, medical infrastructure, and access to medical services in the country's vast rural regions. China's investments in medical and healthcare infrastructure are expected to total $63.5 billion this decade. Consequently, China's share of worldwide medical systems sales is expected to more than double in the next four years, reaching 10 per cent in 2017 versus 4 per cent in 2013, while the market shares of developed countries shrink, according to IC Insights' new report.

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