Robotic technology has been used to provide medical care on a limited basis over the past two decades, helping to make surgical procedures and physical rehabilitation more efficient and effective, and safer for patients. Recent advances in robots’ technological capabilities, combined with the improving economic environment for medical services delivery and payments, are driving increased demand for surgical, assistive and telemedicine-based robots.
A new study by ABI Research, “Healthcare and Medical Robots” foresees the global market for medical robotics growing from just under $790 million in 2011 to nearly $1.3 billion in 2016, driven largely by sales of advanced surgical robots and related automated radiosurgical systems.
Larry Fisher, research director of NextGen (ABI Research’s emerging technologies research incubator) says, “While robots to assist surgeons have been used on a limited basis for years, the desire of patients, physicians and payors to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of medical treatment has led to a recent surge in the popularity of medical robots, as well as to the introduction of additional assistive technologies and telemedicine-based automation tools.”
Despite the benefits of using automated and assistive technologies to make medical procedures and activities easier, safer and more cost-effective, the initial cost of implementing such technologies remains a barrier to entry, particularly for smaller medical organizations. Moreover, robotic systems designed for medical care and treatment require significant clinical testing and trials as part of the regulatory approvals process, which can raise these products’ price tags, and make their journey to market a lengthy one.
Moreover, the medical robots market is limited by the number of qualified medical institutions or practitioners that can utilize these devices. This group is further limited by economics; smaller organizations simply may not be able to afford the up-front capital expenditure associated with robots that can cost anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to more than $4 million per unit.
As a result, says Fisher, “On a unit basis, the market for medical robots will remain limited. At the same time, however, the high average selling price of most medical robots will help propel revenue to the billion-dollar level and beyond by 2016.”
This study is published as part of ABI Research’s Human-Machine Technology Research Service.
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