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: Computer-aided surgery modeling.

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

Computer-aided surgery modelling is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Computer-aided surgery modelling is a surgical concept in which computer technology is used to assist or perform surgical procedures. It aids surgeons during surgery by allowing them to analyse internal anatomy and display it on a computer screen without actually exposing the region. Based on the findings, a treatment plan is established using specialised computer software, boosting the safety and effectiveness of surgical procedures.

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 40 companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of computer-aided surgery modelling.

Key players in computer-aided surgery modelling – 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 computer-aided surgery modelling

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Heartflow 282 Unlock company profile
Stryker 94 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 89 Unlock company profile
3Shape 88 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 87 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 62 Unlock company profile
EBM 42 Unlock company profile
Theator 39 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 34 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 30 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 26 Unlock company profile
Corning 25 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 25 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 22 Unlock company profile
Straumann Holding 19 Unlock company profile
Alcon 15 Unlock company profile
SanDance Technology 14 Unlock company profile
Vektor Medical 13 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater 13 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 11 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 10 Unlock company profile
3M 10 Unlock company profile
Establishment Labs Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Emovi 9 Unlock company profile
Optimized Ortho 9 Unlock company profile
Digital Surgery 8 Unlock company profile
InSilicoTrials Technologies 7 Unlock company profile
LiveData 7 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 6 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 6 Unlock company profile
Next Biomedical 6 Unlock company profile
Olympus 6 Unlock company profile
General Electric 6 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 5 Unlock company profile
Siemens 5 Unlock company profile
NovoCure 5 Unlock company profile
Novartis 5 Unlock company profile
PrecisionLife Ltd 5 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 5 Unlock company profile
Centre De Recherche Medico Dentaire AM 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Heartflow is one of the leading patent filers in the field of computer-aided surgery modelling. Some other key patent filers in the field include Stryker, Zimmer Biomet and 3Shape.

In terms of application diversity, Next Biomedical leads the pack, followed by 3Shape and Zimmer Biomet. By means of geographic reach, Corning held the top position, followed by Stryker and Optimized Ortho in second and third spots, respectively.

By combining AI with surgical planning, surgical procedures are made simple for surgeons, reducing the likelihood of error and increasing patient safety while saving time. This market will expand as computer-aided surgical modelling enables surgeons to do intricate procedures in confined areas of the body with greater precision, control, and adaptability than is possible with conventional surgery.

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on AI in Healthcare - 2021.


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.