Worldwide growth in medical electronics is expected to regain strength in the next three years after slowing since 2010 due to the weak global economy and efforts to curb healthcare costs in the U.S. and Europe, according to IC Insights’ new 2014 edition of IC Market Drivers—A Study of Emerging and Major End-Use Applications Fueling Demand for Integrated Circuits. The new report forecasts medical electronics sales will grow 8% to about $50.9 billion in 2014 after rising just 3% in 2013 to an estimated $47.3 billion. Sales of semiconductors used in medical systems are also expected to gain strength in 2014, rising 12% to $4.9 billion after growing 7% in 2013 to about $4.4 billion.
Between 2012 and 2017, worldwide sales of medical electronics are projected to rise by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3%, reaching $65.4 billion in the final forecast year of the 2014 IC Market Drivers report. The brand new medical electronics section in the 475-page report shows semiconductor sales for healthcare systems applications rising by a CAGR of 10.5% and reaching $6.8 billion in 2017 (Figure 1).
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. 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%.
Development trends in medical systems for hospitals, clinics, and doctor offices are heading in two different directions as equipment makers respond to growing pressures for lower costs and increased availability of healthcare in poor and developing countries. One trend is to make new medical diagnostic systems smaller and less expensive so that equipment can be used in the rooms of hospital patients, more clinics, and doctor offices versus the dedicated examination rooms in hospitals and imaging centers. Advancements in semiconductor sensors—many of them built with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology—wireless ICs, and system-on-chip (SoC) designs are also enabling new types of mobile medical devices that monitor patients and the elderly at home and then relay information to doctors or hospitals via wireless connections to cellphones or the Internet.