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: Surgical planning system.

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

Surgical planning system is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Surgical planning is the pre-operative method that allows surgeons to pre-define the surgical steps by visualising the surgical intervention in advance by utilising artificial intelligence. This will improve the process of treating the disease as doctors are able to better understand the complexities of a patient’s body before surgery, allowing them to plan a course of action that is best for the patient.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of surgical planning system.

Key players in surgical planning system – 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 tohe 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 surgical planning system

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Heartflow 296 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 126 Unlock company profile
Stryker 84 Unlock company profile
EBM 42 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 35 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 31 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 27 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 27 Unlock company profile
Episurf Medical 25 Unlock company profile
Siemens 23 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 23 Unlock company profile
Vektor Medical 18 Unlock company profile
JointVue 16 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 15 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 12 Unlock company profile
FEops 12 Unlock company profile
EDDA Technology 11 Unlock company profile
Think Surgical 11 Unlock company profile
Venus Concept 11 Unlock company profile
Accuray 9 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 9 Unlock company profile
Mayo Clinic 7 Unlock company profile
Brain Navi Biotechnology 6 Unlock company profile
General Electric 6 Unlock company profile
Envista Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
Halifax Biomedical 6 Unlock company profile
Peacs 6 Unlock company profile
Epica International 5 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 5 Unlock company profile
TROPHY 5 Unlock company profile
Cleveland Clinic Foundation 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Heartflow is one of the leading patent filers in the field of artificial intelligence surgical planning. Some other leading filers include Johnson & Johnson, Stryker, EBM, Koninklijke Philips and Synaptive Medical.

In terms of application diversity, Envista Holding leads the pack, followed by Vektor Medical and Siemens.

By means of geographic reach, Venus Concept held the top position, followed by Brain Navi Biotechnology and Envista Holding in second and third spots, respectively.

Advancements in preoperative planning will help surgeons to explore various treatment alternatives, improve surgical precision, and reduce complications. This will also offer the benefit of finding a feasible strategy for complicated procedures. Overall, there will be an increase in the adoption of surgical planning systems in the future as they aid as a visual guide to both surgeons and patients.

The advantages of image-based preoperative planning include the ability to explore treatment alternatives, e.g, various access points, surgical tools access points, paths, locations, and the selection of implants. It also allows increasing the precision of the surgery and its robustness, as well as reducing its risks. In difficult cases, image-based preoperative planning helps to find a feasible strategy, and allows the access to surgery for the patient.

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.