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: Laser-guided surgical instruments.

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 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

Laser-guided surgical instruments is a key innovation area in healthcare

Laser-guided surgical tools are minimally invasive surgery navigation devices. The technology combines laser navigation with 3D autostereoscopic picture overlay. Animated imaging is used to create images of surgical anatomic features overlaid on the patient, which simulate motion parallax without the need for specific viewing or tracking gear.

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 laser-guided surgical instruments.

Key players in laser-guided surgical instruments – 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 laser-guided surgical instruments

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 862 Unlock company profile
Waters 157 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 71 Unlock company profile
Olympus 60 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 50 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 42 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 29 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 19 Unlock company profile
Autonomix Medical 18 Unlock company profile
Kardium 15 Unlock company profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 14 Unlock company profile
Stryker 14 Unlock company profile
Monteris Medical 12 Unlock company profile
ERBE Elektromedizin 10 Unlock company profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 9 Unlock company profile
Medicaroid 8 Unlock company profile
Adagio Medical 8 Unlock company profile
Autonomix 8 Unlock company profile
US Patent Innovations 7 Unlock company profile
Bracco 7 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 6 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 6 Unlock company profile
Otsuka Holdings 5 Unlock company profile
CamPlex 5 Unlock company profile
Acutus Medical 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of Laser-guided surgical instruments. Some other key patent filers in the field include Waters, Medtronic and Olympus.

In terms of application diversity, Waters leads the pack, followed by Otsuka and US Patent Innovations, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Autonomix Medical held the top position, while Adagio Medical and ERBE Elektromedizin were in second and third spots, respectively.

Laser-guided surgical instruments have the advantage of allowing for more accurate incisions while generating less heat.

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.