Smaller and more integrated medical systems are expected to drive up sales of ICs, sensors, and other devices over the next two years, according to IC Insights. The market research firm projects global medical semiconductor sales to reach $8.2 billion in 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3 percent between 2013 and 2018. During the previous forecast period of 2008 to 2013, medical semiconductor sales grew by 6.9 percent.
The IC portion of the medical semiconductor market is forecast to reach $6.6 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 10.7 percent, while the market share for optoelectronics, sensors/actuators, and discretes (O-S-D), due to strong growth for solid-state sensors and optical imaging devices, is expected to reach $1.6 billion in 2018, growing at an annual rate of 20.3 percent during the forecast period.
The report, IC Market Drivers—A Study of Emerging and Major End-Use Applications Fueling Demand for Integrated Circuits, finds that ICs and other semiconductor technologies continue to play key roles in medical system designs. These advancements include the scaling of IC feature sizes, system-on-chip (SoC) designs, improvements in sensors, and powerful analog frontend (AFE) data converters, which help to reduce the size of medical diagnostic equipment and the cost of using them.
“With more medical imaging systems being digitized and healthcare equipment running under computer control, IC-driven advancements are happening almost as quickly as they are in mobile phones, and many consumer electronics. Government certification can slow some system introductions,” according to the report.
However, medical system manufacturers, including those for imaging and diagnostics, treatment, and surgery, are faced with two challenges – the need for lower costs and increased availability of healthcare worldwide, which is driving the market into two directions, said analysts.
On one hand, medical equipment makers are developing smaller and less expensive systems for use in hospital patient rooms, clinics, and doctor offices. The report finds that “these systems cost one-quarter to one-tenth the price of large diagnostic equipment—such as traditional MRI and CT scanners, which can cost $1 million and are normally installed in medical-imaging centers or in dedicated hospital examination rooms.”
In addition, there is significant growth in lower cost wearable medical systems that wirelessly transmit a patient’s vital signs to doctors via cell phones or the Internet and fitness monitors that are used as activity trackers.
The other direction the medical equipment market is taking is toward the development of more powerful and integrated systems such as computer-assisted surgery systems, surgical robots, and operating-room automation. While these systems are expensive, they “promise to lower healthcare costs by detecting cancer and diseases sooner and supporting less invasive surgery for quick recovery times and shorter stays in hospitals,” according to analysts.
The medical electronics systems market, driven by growing demand for lower cost systems and the higher price tag of more sophisticated hospital equipment in developed country markets, is forecast to reach $70.1 billion in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 8.2 percent between 2013 and 2018.