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 Robotics in Healthcare: Automated drug dispensing 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, microfluidic devices, static computer-aided implant surgery (s-CAIS), and digital pathology guided robotic surgery are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Interactive exercise system, computer-aided dental prostheses, and automated genetic screening are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is the automated drug dispensing systems, which is now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the healthcare industry

Automated drug dispensing systems is a key innovation area in robotics

Automated drug dispensing systems are decentralised drug delivery systems that offer computer-controlled medication tracking, storage, and dispensing. The systems have been suggested as a viable method to boost productivity and patient safety. These machines are now commonly utilised in many hospitals.

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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automated drug dispensing systems.

Key players in automated drug dispensing 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 drug dispensing systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Becton Dickinson and Co 242 Unlock company profile
Yuyama Co Ltd 146 Unlock company profile
Omnicell Inc 133 Unlock company profile
RxSafe, LLC 61 Unlock company profile
Van Humbeck Family 44 Unlock company profile
Hero Health, Inc. 37 Unlock company profile
Takazono Corporation 34 Unlock company profile
Hanmi Science Co Ltd 31 Unlock company profile
Coca-Cola Enterprises Great Britain Limited 30 Unlock company profile
CVS Health Corp 27 Unlock company profile
Evondos Oy 25 Unlock company profile
Cardinal Health Inc 20 Unlock company profile
PCAS Patient Care Automation Services, Inc. 18 Unlock company profile
McKesson Corp 17 Unlock company profile
PHC Holdings Corp 16 Unlock company profile
PerceptiMed Inc 16 Unlock company profile
AmerisourceBergen Corp 15 Unlock company profile
Asteres Inc 15 Unlock company profile
Touchpoint Medical Inc 14 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips NV 12 Unlock company profile
DAYA Medicals, Inc. 11 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 10 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings Corp 10 Unlock company profile
Envision Air Service LLC 10 Unlock company profile
TKH Group NV 9 Unlock company profile
Pillo Inc 9 Unlock company profile
Access Business Group International Llc 9 Unlock company profile
Express Scripts Insurance Company 8 Unlock company profile
Health Enhancement Research Organization 8 Unlock company profile
AptarGroup Inc 8 Unlock company profile
Wiegand AG 8 Unlock company profile
Bayer AG 8 Unlock company profile
MEPS Real-Time Inc. 8 Unlock company profile
InterMetro Industries Corporation 8 Unlock company profile
Biolog-id SAS 7 Unlock company profile
Immunovative Therapies Ltd 7 Unlock company profile
B. Braun Melsungen AG 7 Unlock company profile
Capsa Healthcare 7 Unlock company profile
Avery Dennison Corp 6 Unlock company profile
Cerx Pharmacy Partners, LP 6 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 6 Unlock company profile
Omron Corp 6 Unlock company profile
Merck & Co Inc 6 Unlock company profile
MedicaSafe Inc 6 Unlock company profile
Telepharmacy Solutions, Inc. 6 Unlock company profile
Tranquility Group Pty Ltd 6 Unlock company profile
Synergie Medicale Brg Inc 6 Unlock company profile
Dose Health LLC 5 Unlock company profile
Remedi Technology Holdings LLC 5 Unlock company profile
Distributrices Medicales BHL Inc 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Becton Dickinson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of automated Drug Dispensing Systems. Some other key patent filers in the field include Yuyama and Omnicell.

In terms of application diversity, Fujifilm leads the pack, followed by Dose Health and Health Enhancement Research Organization, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Access Business Group International held the top position, followed by Wiegand and B. Braun Melsungen in second and third spots, respectively.

As the dispensing function is moved to the perioperative environment, the practitioner’s role is now more heavily centred on monitoring the restricted medication inventory, including all returns, refilling, and reordering. They also have accessible pharmaceutical storage at the point of care. Additionally, dispensing cabinets are a fantastic management tool since they offer reports and data analytics on medicine supplies and consumption, which produce insights to enable more accurate budgeting and inventory management.

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.