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: Ultrasound imaging system. Buy the report here.

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

Ultrasound imaging system is a key innovation area in healthcare

Ultrasound imaging systems use high-frequency sound waves to view blood flowing through blood vessels and the motion of the body's internal organs. There is no ionising radiation exposure, unlike X-ray imaging. A thin layer of gel is applied after placing a transducer or probe on the skin or inside a body opening so that the transducer's ultrasound waves can pass through the gel and into the body. Using the reflection of the waves off the body structures, this further generates an ultrasound image.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ultrasound imaging system.

Key players in ultrasound imaging system – 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 ultrasound imaging system

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Heartflow 249 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 187 Unlock company profile
Enlitic 94 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 89 Unlock company profile
Siemens 86 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 85 Unlock company profile
Konica Minolta 47 Unlock company profile
Olympus 42 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 37 Unlock company profile
Canon 34 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 34 Unlock company profile
Mayo Clinic 24 Unlock company profile
Butterfly Network 22 Unlock company profile
Altaris Capital Partners 22 Unlock company profile
Kheiron Medical Technologies 16 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 16 Unlock company profile
Toshiba Medical Systems 15 Unlock company profile
EchoNous 13 Unlock company profile
Rivanna Medical 12 Unlock company profile
General Electric 11 Unlock company profile
Seno Medical Instruments 10 Unlock company profile
Terumo 10 Unlock company profile
UNEX 9 Unlock company profile
Exact Imaging 8 Unlock company profile
AmCad BioMed 8 Unlock company profile
Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics 8 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 7 Unlock company profile
QView Medical 7 Unlock company profile
Stryker 6 Unlock company profile
Avanos Medical 6 Unlock company profile
Tencent Holdings 5 Unlock company profile
TaiHao Medical 5 Unlock company profile
VPDiagnostics 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Heartflow is one of the leading patent filers in the field of ultrasound imaging system. Some other key patent filers in the field include Koninklijke Philips and Enlitic.

In terms of application diversity, Enlitic leads the pack, followed by Heartflow and International Business Machines. By means of geographic reach, Qview Medical holds the top position, followed by Kheiron Medical Technologies and Olympus in second and third spots, respectively.

Ultrasound imaging can take the place of more invasive, painful research methods as an improvement. Companies that provide ultrasound services are advancing beyond 3D and 2D imaging. They are creating new reconstruction techniques and display options that improve the ability to view, read, comprehend, and interpret. The development of ultrasound technology opens a market for portable, pocket-sized point-of-care devices.

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

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.