Industry analysts continue to project strong growth for medtech industries, with the Department of Health and Human Services reporting that the U.S. medical device market will reach $133 billion by 2016. As U.S. companies represent 38% of the global medtech market, the year is poised to result in record industry growth. Several notable medtech trends for 2015 include:
1. Elimination of the medical device tax. With a general Congressional focus on tax reform, the 2.3% medical device tax is expected to be repealed this year. Elimination of the tax has bipartisan support, with several key Democratic lawmakers joining Republicans in support of tax repeal.
2. Widespread adoption of PEEK to replace metal parts. Although PEEK has been around for decades, experts anticipate that 2015 will usher in a boom in its use in medical technology. R&D teams continue to investigate ways to combine PEEK’s bio-inert properties with compounds designed to promote tissue regeneration.
3. Consolidation of big players in the medtech world. Mergers are the name of the game for 2015, with Stryker rumored to be seeking to acquire Smith & Nephew. Dozens of innovative start-ups are also poised to be bought out by medtech industry giants.
4. Generation of chemical-resistant polymers. Although the CDC reports that life-threatening MRSA infections continue to decline, there is growing interest in hospital equipment treated with chemical-resistant polymers. 2015 is expected to bring a renewed focus on production and delivery of chemical-resistant equipment.
5. Mobile apps grabbing a large segment of the market. Mobile health is here to stay. Nearly 1 in 5 smartphone owners have downloaded a health tracking app, and that number is expected to expand in 2015. Industry observers are keen to note whether mHealth can tap into the desirable youth demographic.
6. 3D printing boom poised to revolutionize medical care delivery. With 2014 bringing 3D-printed vertebrae and knee cartilage, some predict that 2015 will be “the year of medical 3D printing.” An expansion of available materials for printing is predicted to spur innovation and improve access to life-saving medical equipment.
7. Large newcomers entering the playing field. No longer content to sit on the sidelines of the lucrative medical market, Google is poised to use its vast resources to solve medical problems (Apple may be close behind). Google’s new R&D firm Calico intends to develop technologies that combat neurodegeneration, cancer, and other age-related diseases.