The healthcare industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by telemedicine, real-time diagnostics, smart hospitals and access to digital therapies, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), robotics and data management practices. In the last three years alone, there have been over 106,000 patents filed and granted in the healthcare industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: AI-assisted surgical imaging systems

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

200+ innovations will shape the healthcare industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the healthcare industry using innovation intensity models built on over 443,000 patents, there are 200+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, drug delivery device security, microscopic image analysis models, and cellular imaging techniques are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart balloon catheters, automated immunoassay analysers, and AI-assisted MRI are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are smart fitness training system and non-invasive physiological monitoring, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry 

AI-assisted surgical imaging systems is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence 

AI has recently been applied to surgery with a foundation in imaging, navigation and early techniques focused on feature detection and computer-assisted intervention for both preoperative planning and intraoperative guidance. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AI-assisted surgical imaging systems. 

Key players in AI-assisted surgical imaging systems – a disruptive innovation in the healthcare industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to cashierless stores

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Smith & Nephew Plc 164 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 110 Unlock company profile
Stryker Corp 95 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips NV 45 Unlock company profile
EBM Corp 42 Unlock company profile
Theator Inc. 28 Unlock company profile
Medtronic Plc 28 Unlock company profile
Siemens AG 21 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical Inc 20 Unlock company profile
Olympus Corp 20 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical Inc 20 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical Inc 19 Unlock company profile
Alcon Inc 17 Unlock company profile
Sony Group Corp 15 Unlock company profile
NovaRad Corp 15 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap Inc 15 Unlock company profile
Align Technology Inc 13 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc 13 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines Corp 13 Unlock company profile
Aris MD Inc 13 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater LLC 11 Unlock company profile
Quantum Surgical SAS 10 Unlock company profile
CMR Surgical Ltd 10 Unlock company profile
Vektor Medical Inc 9 Unlock company profile
Chang Gung Memorial Foundation 9 Unlock company profile
Alphabet Inc 7 Unlock company profile
Accenture Plc 7 Unlock company profile
Dental Monitoring SAS 6 Unlock company profile
Brain Navi Biotechnology Co Ltd 6 Unlock company profile
Hologic Inc 6 Unlock company profile
Universidade de Coimbra 6 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona Inc 6 Unlock company profile
Tietronix Software Inc. 6 Unlock company profile
General Electric Co 6 Unlock company profile
Patterson Companies Inc 6 Unlock company profile
Ivoclar Vivadent AG 5 Unlock company profile
Montefiore Medical Center 5 Unlock company profile
Novartis AG 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Smith & Nephew is the leading patent filer in the AI-assisted surgical imaging systems market. Some other leading patent filers include Johnson & Johnson and Stryker

In terms of application diversity, Olympus leads the pack, followed by Theator and Medtronic. With regards to geographic reach, Stryker leads, followed by Aris MD, Brain Navi Biotechnology, and Dentsply Sirona

AI is increasingly transforming surgery practices with technological advancements in imaging, navigation, and robotic intervention. Modern surgery is being transformed by the development of AI towards more autonomous and precise intervention for the treatment of both acute and chronic ailments. 

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare. 


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.