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.
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 is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence
Digital pathology is a branch of pathology that focuses on data management using data obtained from digitised specimen slides. Digital pathology employs virtual microscopy using computer-based technologies. With the advent of digitalisation in pathology, pathologists and patients can immediately solve the issues and limitations caused by the traditional pathology process. The idea entails the digital gathering, management, distribution, and interpretation of pathology information.
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 digital pathology.
Key players in digital pathology – 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
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Heartflow||247||Unlock company profile|
|Microsoft||96||Unlock company profile|
|Becton Dickinson and Co||44||Unlock company profile|
|Theator||30||Unlock company profile|
|Sony Group||25||Unlock company profile|
|Danaher||23||Unlock company profile|
|Oracle||23||Unlock company profile|
|AIC Innovations Group||22||Unlock company profile|
|Fujifilm Holdings||20||Unlock company profile|
|F. Hoffmann-La Roche||19||Unlock company profile|
|Drishti Technologies||18||Unlock company profile|
|Hologic||15||Unlock company profile|
|Olympus||14||Unlock company profile|
|Metrologic Instruments||11||Unlock company profile|
|Alphabet||10||Unlock company profile|
|Koninklijke Philips||10||Unlock company profile|
|Actim||8||Unlock company profile|
|Olympus Soft Imaging Solutions||8||Unlock company profile|
|Proscia||7||Unlock company profile|
|4D Path||7||Unlock company profile|
|Yuyama||7||Unlock company profile|
|MikroScan Technologies||7||Unlock company profile|
|Aiforia Technologies||6||Unlock company profile|
|Hitachi||6||Unlock company profile|
|European Molecular Biology Laboratory||6||Unlock company profile|
|Biodesix||6||Unlock company profile|
|Ai Cure Technologies||6||Unlock company profile|
|Nucleai||5||Unlock company profile|
|Digital Surgery||5||Unlock company profile|
|Millennium Pharmacy Systems||5||Unlock company profile|
|Medi Whale||5||Unlock company profile|
|International Business Machines||5||Unlock company profile|
|Dai Nippon Printing||5||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Heartflow is the leading patent filer in the digital pathology market. Some other leading patent filers include Microsoft and Becton Dickinson.
In terms of application diversity, Heartflow leads, followed by Drishti Technologies and Olympus Soft Imaging Solutions. With regards to geographic reach, Becton Dickinson leads, followed by Aiforia Technologies and Sony Group.
Soon, digital pathology will offer enormous potential for routine histopathology. Digital pathology has yielded promising results for initial histopathological diagnosis, with AI algorithms increasingly being integrated into the digital reporting workflow. Nonetheless, concerns about the present level of clinically meaningful benefits persist in the face of significant upfront expenditures and difficult-to-evaluate hospital and reimbursement contexts.
To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare.