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 therapy. Buy the report here.

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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 therapy is a key innovation area in healthcare

Ultrasound therapy, also known as therapeutic ultrasound or focused ultrasound, is a non-invasive treatment approach used to reduce pain, enhance circulation, and encourage tissue healing. This treatment is given by a professional, a physical therapist, who assists people in managing pain and enhancing mobility. In order to deeply heat soft tissues and possibly relieve pain, ultrasound therapy uses sound waves produced by a transducer head, which resembles a microphone.

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

Key players in ultrasound therapy – 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 therapy

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 226 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 121 Unlock Company Profile
Aerin Medical 66 Unlock Company Profile
Liminal Sciences 52 Unlock Company Profile
Medtronic 45 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 38 Unlock Company Profile
Guided Therapy Systems 36 Unlock Company Profile
Autonomix Medical 26 Unlock Company Profile
Boston Scientific 21 Unlock Company Profile
Olympus 20 Unlock Company Profile
Parasonic 19 Unlock Company Profile
Elbit Imaging 19 Unlock Company Profile
Smith & Nephew 18 Unlock Company Profile
Autonomix 18 Unlock Company Profile
PhotoSonix Medical 15 Unlock Company Profile
Horizon Technology Finance 15 Unlock Company Profile
MC10 15 Unlock Company Profile
Monteris Medical 14 Unlock Company Profile
Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault 14 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 13 Unlock Company Profile
AbbVie 13 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 13 Unlock Company Profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 12 Unlock Company Profile
Respiratory Technology 12 Unlock Company Profile
EMPI 11 Unlock Company Profile
Cardiawave 11 Unlock Company Profile
Functional Neuromodulation 9 Unlock Company Profile
Heartflow 9 Unlock Company Profile
Chang Gung Memorial Foundation 9 Unlock Company Profile
Assistance Publique - Hopitaux de Paris 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mirabilis Medical 9 Unlock Company Profile
EW Healthcare Partners 9 Unlock Company Profile
Otsuka Holdings 8 Unlock Company Profile
Lungpacer Medical 8 Unlock Company Profile
WellsCare 7 Unlock Company Profile
Enovis 7 Unlock Company Profile
Rainbow Medical 7 Unlock Company Profile
L'Oreal 6 Unlock Company Profile
Intuitive Surgical 6 Unlock Company Profile
Invention Science Fund II 6 Unlock Company Profile
Aleyegn Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hironic 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 5 Unlock Company Profile
SmileSonica 5 Unlock Company Profile
Tricord Holdings 5 Unlock Company Profile
SANUWAVE Health 5 Unlock Company Profile
Corfigo 5 Unlock Company Profile
Itrace Biomedical 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of ultrasound therapy. Some other key patent filers in the field include Koninklijke Philips and Aerin Medical.

In terms of application diversity, EMPI leads the pack, followed by Enovis and Parasonic. By means of geographic reach, EMPI holds the top position, followed by Mirabilis Medical and Autonomix Medical in second and third spots, respectively.

As an early-stage, non-invasive treatment option, ultrasound therapy can be used successfully to treat some chronic pain conditions. It can also be used as an alternative treatment option or as a supplement to more invasive methods, like surgery. Ultrasound Therapy has been demonstrated to be generally safe and has received FDA approval to help treat several chronic pain conditions. Laparoscopic methods are currently used in most surgeries, which considerably minimise morbidity and hospital stays associated with invasive surgery.

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

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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.