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: Smart drug delivery devices.

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

Smart drug delivery devices is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Smart drug delivery devices are now becoming a standard model for drug administration to specified areas or targets. Medication targeted (DT) delivery systems keep drug concentrations at optimal levels and eliminate the need for recurrent administrations.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart drug delivery devices.

Key players in smart drug delivery devices – 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 smart drug delivery devices

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
DexCom 187 Unlock company profile
BIONIME 116 Unlock company profile
B. Braun Melsungen 92 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 88 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 68 Unlock company profile
Bigfoot Biomedical 35 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 30 Unlock company profile
PHC Holdings 25 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 16 Unlock company profile
Platinum Equity 16 Unlock company profile
Aseko 15 Unlock company profile
Cigna 10 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 8 Unlock company profile
Insulet 5 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Dexcom is one of the leading patent filers in smart drug delivery devices. Some other key patent filers in the field include Bionime and B. Braun Melsungen.

In terms of application diversity, Aseko leads the pack, followed by F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Platinum Equity. By means of geographic reach, B. Braun Melsungen holds the top position, followed by Cigna and Platinum Equity in second and third spots, respectively. 

Smart Drug delivery devices allow an increase in the effectiveness of the therapy by minimizing the negative effects of drug administration by delivering a specific amount of a therapeutic drug to a specified region within the human tissue for the longevity of its activity.  Moreover, in the future, combining expertise in drug-targeted delivery with advancing technology in molecular medicine will open the door to understanding the cellular and molecular mechanism for underlying diseases.

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.