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 of 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 Robotics in Medical Devices: Robotic catheters.

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, HUDs for surgical navigation, robotic biopsy endoscope, and camera-guided surgical robots are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Robotic exoskeleton, surgical robots, and robotic catheters are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are robotic lower limb rehabilitation and microfluidic Lab-on-a-chip, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the medical devices industry

Robotic catheters is a key innovation area in robotics

Robotic catheters are intended to direct catheters with precision and stability during surgery. A robotic advancement unit is used in order to move the wire forward and backward. Robotic catheters may decrease the initial radiation impact on doctors, which makes them a superior method compared to the manual approach.

Robotic technologies may help maintain the catheter steady, enhance navigation, and speed up procedures. Robotic catheter ablations have, however, often produced results that are comparable to those of conventional (manual) catheter ablations. As a result, neither the success nor complication rates have considerably improved or declined.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of robotic catheters.

Key players in robotic catheters – 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 robotic catheters

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 388 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 181 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 173 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 125 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 118 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 113 Unlock company profile
ASAN Foundation 24 Unlock company profile
Moray Medical 21 Unlock company profile
Olympus 20 Unlock company profile
Siemens 19 Unlock company profile
Robocath 18 Unlock company profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 17 Unlock company profile
Avanos Medical 14 Unlock company profile
Cardionxt 11 Unlock company profile
Stent Tek 11 Unlock company profile
Canon 8 Unlock company profile
Shanghai MicroPort EP MedTech 8 Unlock company profile
Avinger 7 Unlock company profile
Lucent Medical Systems 5 Unlock company profile
Cook Group 5 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of robotic catheters. Some other key patent filers in the field include Koninklijke Philips, Intuitive Surgical, Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic, and Becton Dickinson.

In terms of application diversity, Panasonic leads the pack, followed by Canon and Medtronic. By means of geographic reach, Stent Tek held the top position, followed by Robocath and Becton Dickinson, in the second and third spots, respectively.

The demand for minimally invasive treatments and robotics is growing in healthcare. Although several ways exist currently to minimise radiation, robotic-assisted operations are thought of as a separate strategy. With continuous advancements in terms of automating many aspects of surgeries, focus will remain on improving the patient outcomes, while maintaining a safe work environment.

To further understand how robotics is disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics in Medical (2021).


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.