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: Medical image processing 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

Medical image processing systems is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Medical image processing involves the use and exploration of 3D image data sources of the human body, most obtained from a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, to diagnose pathologies, guide invasive procedures, such as surgical planning, or for research purposes. These systems look at the images and help their users to better find abnormalities in the image, thus improving patient care. While this technology is being used currently, it is still in an early stage with new developments happening yearly. To show its full value, it will be important for smaller hospitals and centers to integrate this into their practice so there is minimal dichotomy of care.

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 110+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of medical image processing systems.

Key players in medical image processing 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 medical image processing systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Koninklijke Philips 278 Unlock company profile
Canon 203 Unlock company profile
Siemens 198 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 175 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 111 Unlock company profile
Stryker 107 Unlock company profile
Hologic 99 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 97 Unlock company profile
Heartflow 97 Unlock company profile
Shanghai United Imaging Healthcare 96 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 74 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 67 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 60 Unlock company profile
Enlitic 58 Unlock company profile
General Electric 58 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 58 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 50 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 49 Unlock company profile
Olympus 45 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 39 Unlock company profile
ARC Devices 38 Unlock company profile
Danaher 37 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 32 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 31 Unlock company profile
NuVasive 30 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 26 Unlock company profile
Hoya 26 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 25 Unlock company profile
Furukawa 25 Unlock company profile
Xi'An Keruisheng Innovative Technology 24 Unlock company profile
Heuron 24 Unlock company profile
Konica Minolta 24 Unlock company profile
Pro Medicus 23 Unlock company profile
Dental Smartmirror 23 Unlock company profile
Toshiba Medical Systems 22 Unlock company profile
Trice Imaging 20 Unlock company profile
Modulim 20 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 19 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 18 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 17 Unlock company profile
Curemetrix 17 Unlock company profile
Bracco 17 Unlock company profile
MikroScan Technologies 17 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 16 Unlock company profile
NEC 16 Unlock company profile
Eyenuk 16 Unlock company profile
ASAN Foundation 15 Unlock company profile
Tel Hashomer Medical Research Infrastructure and Services 15 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 15 Unlock company profile
Shanghai United Imaging Intelligence 14 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Koninklijke Philips is one of the leading patent filers in the field of medical image processing systems. Some other key patent filers in the field include Canon and Siemens.

In terms of application diversity, Dental Smartmirror leads the pack, followed by Bracco and ARC Devices, respectively. By means of geographic reach, NuVasive held the top position, followed by Abbott Laboratories and Stryker in the second and third spots, respectively.

Medical diagnoses can be expediated with the usage of AI-enabled medical image processing. A high-definition real-time imaging processing is a vital component of medical diagnostics. The ability of AI systems to reproduce the claimed performance accurately and reliably with a certain degree of confidence is a key aspect of their robustness.

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.