Currently, the global medical equipment market is experiencing explosive growth. Some estimates predict it will reach $ 365 Billion US dollars by 2015. This is simultaneously occurring as much of the world economies are experiencing economic recession. Much of what is fueling demand is expansion of health care services for the aging population. Medical devices and equipment have the capability to improving clinical outcomes, therefore improving quality of life. The US is the leading consumer in this market, however, other rapidly developing countries, such as China and India, are catching up. These countries are experiencing new prosperity combined with improved awareness of healthcare services. Other less developed countries are trying to improve their healthcare available to their citizens as a priority of their policies. Governments are trying to improve infrastructure as the population increases and demands higher standards for care. All these forces fuel demand for the need to purchase medical equipment. As more customers are buying medical equipment, merchants will be more eager to create or expand businesses that place medical equipment for sale. The net effect will be expansion of the medical equipment market.
There are some forces that counteract this process. For instance, in the US, declining employment reduces demand for medical services. This is because employers are a major provider of health insurance. Also, patients have less disposable income to spend on elective services or procedures, causing a decline in requests for orthopedic and cosmetic procedures. At the same time, healthcare costs and regulation have increased. Insurers and major government healthcare insurance programs, such as Medicare, have steadily reduced their reimbursement for services. This reduces profitability of hospitals and providers who are less willing to allocate resources for more medical equipment. Many market research firms predict markets in developing countries will see the greatest growth in purchasing medical equipment. Areas of Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia are increasing their expenditure on medical products and technologies, therefore, fueling demand. However, the unstable economies of more developed countries have to some extent reduced demand.
Medical device companies are restructuring their strategy for development toward high-end devices that significantly improve diagnostic capability. The rising incidence of chronic disease, such as, diabetes and asthma, as well as an aging population will drive demand for medical equipment that specifically improves existing care. There is more of a focus on preventative medicine and devices that can help identify and treat disease before it occurs. As consumers, providers are pushing for technologies that improve their quality of care and efficiency. Hospitals would like to eliminate non-essential diagnostic procedures and enhance the accuracy of existing diagnostic procedures. There is an increasing trend among health care providers to shift their care to treating patients at home with their families rather than in the hospital. Therefore, medical equipment that can be used at home will be in demand. This includes gloves, home dialysis equipment, and wound care supplies. Providers also are interested in technologies that facilitate changes in organizational management structure or medical record keeping, such as, the adoption of electronic medical records (EMR), reducing overall administrative waste and improving efficiency.
Finally, companies are targeting patients as consumers themselves, who are taking on a more active role in their own health care needs. The public is increasingly more educated about medical care and want access to equipment that they can use at home. This could include blood pressure reading devices, medication infusion equipment for insulin and pain control, or gloves and sterile bandages for wound care. There is public concern over exposure to radiation or harmful contrast agents used in common diagnostic procedures, such as in CT scans, X-ray, and angiographic procedures. Medical equipment manufacturers that make products that reduce a patient’s exposure to these sources will see increased demand for their products.