The medical electronics market has been a strong performer amid the sluggish economic conditions for electronics distributors and manufacturers over the last few years. As 2014 gets underway, those companies can count on an even bigger bang out of the medical market, as analysts predict a return to double-digit growth globally.
Worldwide growth in medical electronics is expected to speed up in the next three years after slowing since 2010, according to the 2014 edition of IC Insights’ IC Market Drivers report, released in November. The research company says medical electronics sales will grow 8% to about $51 billion in 2014 after rising just 3% in 2013 to roughly $47 billion. Sales of semiconductors used in medical systems are also expected to gain strength this year, rising 12% to about $5 billion after growing 7% in 2013 to $4.4 billion.
Also, IC Insights predicts worldwide sales of medical electronics will rise by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3% between 2012 and 2017, reaching $65.4 billion. Sales of semiconductors used for healthcare systems applications will rise by a CAGR of nearly 11% to reach almost $7 billion by 2017, the group says. The researchers cite growing demand for medical equipment in China and other developing countries, along with the trend toward mobile healthcare systems, as key reasons for the expected increase in sales.
“In the years ahead, stronger growth in medical electronics will be fueled by sales of less expensive diagnostic and imaging equipment in China and other developing country markets as well as the explosion of wireless mobile healthcare systems that monitor patients remotely and reduce the need for expensive stays in hospitals,” according to IC Insights. “The 2014 IC Market Drivers report forecasts wireless mobile medical systems and closely associated wearable fitness-tracking devices generating revenues of nearly $1.9 billion in 2014, which is a 53% increase from about $1.2 billion in 2013, when worldwide sales grew 27%.”
IC Insights also points to two key development trends in the marketplace. The first is the drive to make new medical diagnostic systems smaller and less expensive so equipment can be used in patients’ rooms, clinics, and doctors’ offices instead of hospital exam rooms and imaging centers. Hand in hand with that are advances in semiconductor sensors, wireless ICs, and system-on-chip (SoC) designs that enable mobile medical devices. The other trend is the creation of more powerful and integrated systems, which are expensive but will reduce healthcare costs by detecting diseases sooner and supporting less invasive surgery for quick recovery times and shorter hospital stays.
“Computer-assisted surgery systems, surgical robots, and operating-room automation are among new technologies being pursued by some hospitals in developed-country markets,” IC Insights says.
The world’s aging population and China’s heavy investment in healthcare will be growth drivers over the next few years as well. China is expected to invest nearly $64 billion in medical and healthcare infrastructure this decade.