Surgical robots are in high demand, which will only grow in the future. According to Markets and Markets, the surgical robotics market will grow from $3.9 billion in 2018 to $6.5 billion by 2023. These are not new machines, entirely, but their sophistication and precision has been advancing steadily for years, and the market is starting to react. So, what’s driving this growth, and what does it mean for healthcare?
Surgeons Have a High Preference for Surgical Robots
Surgical robots have the ability to perform complex procedures with precision. This ability makes it easier to reach anatomical areas that have historically been more complicated for surgeons, with important implications for fields like gynecology, neurology, and oncology. The ability to be more precise with a surgical robot over laparoscopic or open-surgery approaches provides surgeons with a strategic tool. Because of these reasons and the fact that the use of surgical robots can often be less invasive has made them highly preferable by surgeons.
Automation, Complexity Drive Surgical Robotics Demand
Many other factors are driving demand. Automation implementation in healthcare is increasing (as it is everywhere), allowing for better efficiency and greater integration of more advanced tools. There’s also an increase in chronic disease, which is partially the result of an aging population that’s growing.
Surgical procedures are becoming more complex, as well. In turn, however, there is also a growing demand among patients and healthcare stakeholders for more noninvasive surgeries. The precision and flexibility that surgical robots offer are very attractive. Moreover, it’s also been shown to reduce post-operative complications.
Surgical Robotics Challenges
While demand is certainly increasing, there are some barriers in this burgeoning market. First, there’s the cost involved to purchase and install the equipment. Healthcare budgets are already tight, especially in rural areas. Then there are concerns about safety. Surgery is inherently risky, no matter what resources are used.
Integration issues can also stall adoption of the technology. These complexities can keep hospitals from investing. Finally, the need for technologically skilled personnel can be a roadblock, as surgeons and other clinicians need considerable training to use these tools.
One challenge—cost—is expected to dissipate as further innovations will make them more affordable. The market will continue to introduce new products, so competition will also help with pricing.
Who Is Leading the Robotic Surgery Market?
There is no shortage of robotic surgery companies. Let’s look at some of the leaders based in the U.S.
Intuitive Surgical was the leader in the market in 2018, based mainly on the da Vinci® robotic system. It was the first to gain FDA approval. They have continued to expand their lines. As the original surgical robotics company, they’ve been able to continue to innovate and hold market share.
Stryker holds the second spot in the market. Their acquisition of MAKO Surgical Corp allowed them to take ownership of the Mako™ Robotic Arm. This platform is specifically designed for orthopedic surgeries, which are on the rise again due to an aging population. These robots are used mainly in knee and hip arthroscopy procedures.
In third place is Accuray. They manufacture the CyberKnife® robotic radiosurgery system. Accuray actually developed its surgical robot through a collaboration with an industrial robot manufacturer. It uses image guidance and computer-controlled robotics to deliver radiation to tumors. It’s used to treat many types of cancers and tumors and does so with sub-millimeter accuracy.
Smith & Nephew
Fourth in the market is Smith & Nephew. They make their way on to the list as a result of the acquisition of Blue Belt Technologies. They were able to obtain the NAVIO™ platform, which enables robotic-assisted surgical unicondylar or partial knee replacements. The system uses a handheld instrument combined with a navigation platform. Because it uses CT-free navigation software, no operative planning time is necessary.
Next on the list is Mazor Robotics. Their specialty is spinal surgery and neurosurgery. They own two robotic platforms, the Renaissance® Surgical Guidance System and the Mazor X™ Robotic Guidance System. The Renaissance was designed for cranial surgeries, including biopsies, electrode placement, and shunt replacement. While the Mazor C system is mainly used for spinal implants. This system was co-developed with Medtronic.
What’s the Future of Surgical Robotics?
Technology and innovation will carry surgical robots into the future. It has the potential to continue to contribute to improved patient care. The next generation of surgeons will have begun working with these tools early and will see the capacity for them to improve efficiency.
The forecast for the market will see advancements in multiple areas. These technologies include enhanced imaging, more intelligent systems, and less-invasive approaches. These robots are also collecting massive amounts of data. This data can be analyzed to ensure better learning and further improvements.
What Does This Expanding Market Mean to Healthcare Solutions Providers?
It’s hard to find areas of healthcare that aren’t expanding. But this is an important market to watch. It could significantly evolve the entire aspect of surgery. If this is applicable to your solutions, then you need to keep a pulse on how it’s changing the dynamic. Ultimately, having more knowledge about all aspects of healthcare is a win for you and your customers. Subscribe to the Carevoyance blog to keep up to date on the latest trends and insights in healthcare.
About the Author
Carevoyance contributor Beth Osborne is a professional writer and content marketer with multiple years of experience in healthcare IT marketing. Learn more about her by visiting her website.