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, and 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: Digital pathology guided robotic surgery. Buy the report here.

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 magnetic resonance imaging (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

Digital pathology guided robotic surgery is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Digital pathology technologies, which enable virtual microscopic pictures to be produced, annotated, and readily shared over the internet, considerably expedite guided robotic surgical operations for targeted diagnosis/treatment of tissues such as biopsies.

Digital pathology is quickly gaining traction as a proven and necessary technology, with special support for education, tissue-based research, medication discovery, and human pathology practice throughout the world.  

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of digital pathology guided robotic surgery.

Key players in digital pathology guided robotic surgery – 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 digital pathology guided robotic surgery

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Heartflow 246 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 102 Unlock company profile
Stryker 81 Unlock company profile
Theator 39 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 34 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 25 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 22 Unlock company profile
EMPI 15 Unlock company profile
SanDance Technology 14 Unlock company profile
Vektor Medical 13 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 11 Unlock company profile
Cardiovascular Systems 9 Unlock company profile
Digital Surgery 8 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater 8 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 7 Unlock company profile
LiveData 7 Unlock company profile
Alcon 7 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 6 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 6 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 5 Unlock company profile
Enovis 5 Unlock company profile
General Electric 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Heartflow is the leading patent filer in the digital pathology-guided robotic surgery market. Some other leading patent filers include Johnson & Johnson and Stryker.

In terms of application diversity, Surgical Theater leads, followed by Heartflow and EMPI. With regards to geographic reach, EMPI leads, followed by Stryker and Alcon.

Robotic surgery is still in its early stages. Many of the advantages of robotic-assisted surgery assure that it will continue to grow and expand. Work must be done technically before the full promise of robotic surgery can be realised. Although these systems have substantially increased dexterity, they have yet to realise their full instrumentation potential.

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

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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.