Shipments of healthcare robots to nearly triple by 2021
- Annual shipments of healthcare robots are expected to exceed 10,000 by 2021, up from roughly 3,400 units this year, according to market intelligence firm Tractica.
- Revenues for surgical, rehabilitation, and hospital robots will grow accordingly, from $1.7 billion currently to $2.8 billion in 2021, the firm says.
- Driving growth are a shortage of clinicians, declining costs, and successful pilot studies.
Tractica says providers are attracted to the robots' ability to help cut costs, perform menial tasks, and increase the accuracy of repetitive tasks. The coming years will see everything from surgical robots, hospital logistics robots, disinfectant robots, and nursing robots to exoskeleton robots, robotic prosthetic limbs, and more, the firms adds.
More than 200 companies are currently involved in some aspect of healthcare robotics, according to principal analyst Wendell Chun.
Robots are becoming more prevalent in healthcare settings. Last year, Johnson & Johnson and Google announced a strategic collaboration to advance surgical robotics using new technologies that improve accuracy, outcomes, and cost efficiencies. And earlier this year, Medtronic said it expects to launch a surgical robot in 2019 that will compete with Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci system, the sole robot performing abdominal surgery today. Its system would reduce costs associated with robotic surgery — typically about $3,500 more than a laparoscopic procedure, according to the medtech giant.
Also this year, drone startup Zipline signed a deal with the Rwandan government to deliver essential medical supplies throughout the central African nation. The company’s financial backers include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Sequoia Capital, and Stanford University.
Meanwhile, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Children’s National Health System showed an autonomous robot to be superior in soft tissue procedures to both laparoscopic surgery and robot-assisted surgery. A research team from MIT, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the University of Sheffield used an origami robot in May to retrieve a swallowed battery from a simulated stomach. The robot enters the stomach via a swallowed capsule, unfolds and traverses the stomach to find the battery guided by magnetic fields.
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