The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance in technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalisation. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Medical Devices: AI-assisted MRI.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

150+ innovations will shape the medical devices industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the medical devices industry using innovation intensity models built on over 550,000 patents, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, AI-assisted radiology, motion artefact analysis, and treatment evaluation models are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. MRI image smoothing, AI-assisted EHR/EMR, and AI-assisted CT imaging are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are computer-assisted surgeries and 3D endoscopy, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the medical devices industry

AI-assisted MRI is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has the potential to enhance the utility of traditional MRI from manually diagnosing changes in organ features as an indication of a disease to a true diagnostic tool that relates features to specific diseases in an automated and accurate process. This will greatly help the radiologist and other clinicians in interpreting images and provide more accurate and timely diagnoses which will improve patient outcomes.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AI-assisted MRI.

Key players in AI-assisted MRI – a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to AI-assisted MRI

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Heartflow 282 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 68 Unlock company profile
Siemens 48 Unlock company profile
Canon 37 Unlock company profile
Heuron 20 Unlock company profile
Bayer 20 Unlock company profile
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 9 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 8 Unlock company profile
Medrad 8 Unlock company profile
Toshiba Medical Systems 7 Unlock company profile
Circle Cardiovascular Imaging 6 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 6 Unlock company profile
NovoCure 5 Unlock company profile
General Electric 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Heartflow is one of the leading patent filers in the field of AI-assisted MRI. Some other key patent filers in the medical devices space include Koninklijke Philips, Circle Cardiovascular Imaging, Canon and Medrad.

In terms of application diversity, Heartflow leads the pack, followed by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Koniklijke Philips. By means of geographic reach, Medrad held the top position, followed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Heuron, respectively.

AI has the potential to augment radiology workflows in radiology in many ways. AI-assisted MRI can improve surgical and exam planning, image reconstruction, image analysis, and support clinical decision making. AI-assisted MRI is expected to become a new set of tools in the hands of the radiologist. Such use of AI is likely to be ubiquitous and somewhat invisible to the physician, blending into the background of clinical decision-making processes.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Medical Devices.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.