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 Innovation in Healthcare: Automated laboratory 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, specimen collection devices, ultrasound imaging system, and automated laboratory systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Biological sampling devices, endoscopic ultrasound tomography, and nuclear magnetic imaging (NMR) imaging systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are doppler ultrasound imaging and CT-guided surgery, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for the healthcare industry 

Automated laboratory system is a key innovation area in healthcare 

Robots, machine vision, conveyors, and computer hardware and software make up a lab automation system. The identification of samples utilising barcoded samples and barcoded specimen carriers provides the foundation for specimen transportation and result reporting. Lab automation technologies have decreased the reliance on lab personnel or scientists to do manual tasks like liquid handling or library preparation. 

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 automated laboratory systems. 

Key players in automated laboratory 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 automated laboratory systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Abbott Laboratories 61 Unlock company profile
Labrador Diagnostics 50 Unlock company profile
OPKO Health 49 Unlock company profile
Arctic Partners 33 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 19 Unlock company profile
C. H. Boehringer Sohn 16 Unlock company profile
Danaher 15 Unlock company profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 15 Unlock company profile
DNAnudge 13 Unlock company profile
Arctic Partners 13 Unlock company profile
Cell ID 11 Unlock company profile
Techno Medica 10 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Leavitt Medical 8 Unlock company profile
GE Healthcare 8 Unlock company profile
Visby Medical 7 Unlock company profile
Biological Dynamics 7 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 7 Unlock company profile
Agilent Technologies 6 Unlock company profile
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 6 Unlock company profile
Alere Scarborough 6 Unlock company profile
Mycenax Biotech 5 Unlock company profile
Menarini Diagnosticos 5 Unlock company profile
Nippon Chemi-Con 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Abbott Laboratories is one of the leading patent filers in the field of automated laboratory system. Some other key patent filers in the field include Labrador Diagnostics and OPKO Health

In terms of application diversity, Labrador Diagnostics leads the pack, followed by Fujifilm and F. Hoffmann-La Roche, respectively. By means of geographic reach, OPKO Health held the top position, while Arctic Partners and Visby Medical are in second and third spots, respectively. 

Whether it's new hardware or software, laboratories are continually implementing new technologies. The development of laboratory automation systems has been one of the most significant solutions in recent years. The main factor driving its expansion in the future is that the technology reduces human error, boosts productivity, and is affordable. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on 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.