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: Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).

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, 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

Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Physicians use a single-photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) scan to inspect and evaluate the organs, tissues, and bones of the body. A SPECT scan is a kind of medical imaging procedure that is based on a conventional nuclear imaging exam. It generates 3D images using a radioactive material and a specialised camera. It helps doctors to examine how blood travels to tissues and organs due to the tracer placed before the scan.

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 140+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).

Key players in single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) – 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 single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Koninklijke Philips 834 Unlock company profile
Siemens 758 Unlock company profile
Heartflow 476 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 370 Unlock company profile
Canon 355 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 324 Unlock company profile
Konica Minolta 219 Unlock company profile
General Electric 212 Unlock company profile
Hologic 188 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 154 Unlock company profile
Toshiba Medical Systems 140 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 133 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 125 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 119 Unlock company profile
Stryker 114 Unlock company profile
Enlitic 97 Unlock company profile
Bayer 94 Unlock company profile
CathWorks 92 Unlock company profile
Shanghai United Imaging Healthcare 90 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Chemical 87 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 85 Unlock company profile
Shimadzu 84 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 68 Unlock company profile
Furukawa 44 Unlock company profile
Kheiron Medical Technologies 42 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 36 Unlock company profile
Olympus 35 Unlock company profile
ASAN Foundation 33 Unlock company profile
Elekta 31 Unlock company profile
Heuron 27 Unlock company profile
Episurf Medical 26 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 25 Unlock company profile
HCA Healthcare 24 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 24 Unlock company profile
4DMedical 22 Unlock company profile
Accuray 21 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 20 Unlock company profile
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 20 Unlock company profile
EDDA Technology 19 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 19 Unlock company profile
Pie Medical Imaging 18 Unlock company profile
Neusoft 18 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 18 Unlock company profile
Curemetrix 17 Unlock company profile
Bracco 17 Unlock company profile
Hamamatsu Photonics 17 Unlock company profile
Lunit 16 Unlock company profile
Volpara Health Technologies 16 Unlock company profile
PerkinElmer 15 Unlock company profile
Tencent Holdings 14 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Koninklijke Philips is one of the leading patent filers in the field of Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Some other key patent filers in the field include Siemens, Heartflow, and Fujifilm.

In terms of application diversity, Elekta leads the pack, followed by Enlitic and International Business Machines, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Kheiron Medical Technologies held the top position, followed by Bracco and Curemetrix in the second and third spots, respectively.

The scope of single-photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) scan has increased widely over the past few years. The advancements in innovations and research have opened new pathways in the market. Some new research and development innovations include the development of digital scintillation cameras, improved detection efficiency, spatial resolution, and ease of operation. The fast and stable 3-D models developed by the SPECT scan provide high-quality imaging system, resulting in ease in medical procedures.

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.