Expecting growth in 2021

Features - Cover Story

Although 2020 closed out unlike anything in years, medical device manufacturers anticipate growth and stability to replace 2020’s disruptions and chaos.

February 1, 2021


Though vaccinations began in late 2020, they’ll have a bigger impact this year and will push medical manufacturing and the world toward a new normal. In achieving herd immunity, McKinsey & Co. estimates the U.S could complete inoculations by Q3 or Q4 of 2021.

Analysts from Oxford Economics note that manufacturing remained stable at the end of 2020, with the ISM Manufacturing index rising for seven consecutive months to a new recovery high of 60.7 in December. New production orders signal solid future activity, and inventories rose for a third straight month. Looking ahead, evolving recovery dynamics could cause factory activity growth to slow in 2021. Potential headwinds include the virus’ recent resurgence, slower economic recovery, and ongoing supply chain disruptions.

Oxford Economics stressed that controlling COVID-19 now matters greatly because while the economy has recouped two-thirds of its pandemic output loss and 12 million jobs, gross domestic production (GDP) remains 3.5% below its Q4 2019 level, and the employment shortfall remains. Real GDP growth of 3.5% is expected in 2021, which also assumes broadly available COVID-19 vaccines by mid-year.

The recently released EY’s Pulse of the Industry: Medical Technology Report 2020, notes a 6.3% revenue growth in 2019, slightly down from 2018’s 6.7% growth. In the first half of 2020, however, roughly two-thirds of U.S. pure-play medtech companies and conglomerates with more than $500 million in annual revenue experienced a 5% aggregate revenue decline. Companies focused on elective procedures suffered the most, while companies focused on diagnostics benefited as the pandemic heightened demand.

Those in the personal protective equipment (PPE), testing swab, ventilator, or respirator market (and those able to pivot that direction) were extremely busy in 2020.

Virtual care and telehealth also grew during the pandemic, and that’s not going to disappear now that the convenience has been found. Frost & Sullivan is forecasting a 7x growth in telehealth by 2025 with a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.2%. Virtual visits and remote patient monitoring should propel the overall telehealth market, followed by mHealth and personal emergency response systems. Patients will benefit if data from remote patient monitoring are fully available to virtual visit providers, so we’ll likely see more of these integrated services.

The global outsourcing market was valued around $104 billion in 2017 and nearly $116 billion by the end of 2020. It should grow at a 10.4% CAGR to 2027, reaching more than $231 billion.

Within the outsourcing market, contract manufacturing held the largest market share of 55.8% in 2019 and is expected to dominate the market for the foreseeable future with an increased focus on reducing medical device costs. Several top players are determining their core strengths and outsourcing everything else.

Bottom line

The global medical device market for 2019 was $448 billion, 2020 should be around $443 billion, and the market should grow at a CAGR of 5.2%, reaching more than $671 billion by 2027. (To see what’s forecast for a range of medical sectors, turn to page 8.)


About the author: Elizabeth Engler Modic is editor of Today’s Medical Developments. She can be reached at 216.393.0264 or emodic@gie.net.

Josh Mix

Stryker: Designing and manufacturing products for the future

By Josh Mix

Designing solutions for the future begins with developing a profound empathy for the caregivers who will use them. We must understand who these caregivers are, how they work, and what they need to take care of patients safely and efficiently.

Before we launch a new product, we spend time forging strong relationships and listening to the challenges our global customers face. This drives us to design solutions that will truly impact their lives – such as our newest bed innovation, ProCuity.

We have a rigorous process for discovering an unmet need, achieving a breakthrough, and, ultimately, bringing a solution into production. On the surface, our human-centered design process may not differ from other companies. But we believe the real difference for us is our talent and the connections we make with caregivers.

With respect to the future, it’s important to understand the macro trends within healthcare – such as shifts in care settings. COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of being adaptable and nimble in the face of rapid change, when customers’ needs are shifting.

Some of the biggest buzzwords in healthcare are data, artificial intelligence (AI), and its applications to improve the world around us. These technologies will enable us to bring profound solutions to the table. We will incorporate the tools around us, continue to evolve our process, and leverage it as we continue to focus on enhancing the lives of caregivers and the patients they serve.


Josh Mix is senior director of R&D, Acute Care, Stryker.


Flex Health Solutions: Devices for remote care

By Amy Boyle

Amy Boyle

The pandemic is an accelerant to digital transformation. Trends and developments we once thought would play out throughout a decade are taking root in months. This is especially true for medical devices, where many factors are converging to accelerate delivery of at-home care. Trends driving medical device evolution include:

Reducing non-adherence: Medical non-adherence leads to an estimated 25% to 50% of prescriptions in the U.S. not being taken as prescribed, causing ineffective or less effective therapy, higher hospital admission rates, lost productivity, and higher insurance costs.

Rising remote monitoring: Improvements in sensor and connectivity technology, pressure to reduce healthcare costs, an aging population, growing demand for electronic health record interchanges, and the desire of patients and healthcare professionals to keep non-critical patients away from crowded healthcare facilities are driving non-contact patient monitoring. Patients want more access to their information and sophisticated consumer devices are enabling that shift by interacting with many medical devices.

Smartphone proliferation: Patients and healthcare providers trust smartphone apps to collect sophisticated data to manage most health conditions. Providers can reduce drug waste, monitor more health data, and capture detailed drug administration patterns to improve patient outcomes.

The pandemic didn’t start any of these trends, but it’s helped accelerate the movement. The telehealth genie is out of the bottle. These dramatic shifts mean that manufacturers are now tasked with developing medical devices capable of monitoring more – and higher-quality – data that can be quickly and securely captured, transmitted, and analyzed in real-time to create actionable information.

Integrating technology to improve remote patient care is complex, but it’s a necessary step for manufacturers in a post-COVID world. This requires working with technology partners in a multidisciplinary approach that creates an open and collaborative mindset while still delivering quality products within a strict regulatory framework.


Amy Boyle is vice president, Strategy for Flex Health Solutions.

3D Systems: Simulation, technologies improving quality of care

By Menno Ellis

We expect a notable increase in simulation and other patient-matched technologies that can economically improve the quality of care, despite the challenging COVID environment, such as these trends.

Personalization – particularly in orthopedics: Cost and complexity have been barriers to personalization, but technological advancements continue to minimize them. Software advancements enable virtual planning of increasingly complex cases and AR/VR-based simulation using patient-specific data in surgical training. Patient-specific, 3D-printed instruments and intraoperative navigation tools reduce operative time, errors, and spending on patient care.1

Additive manufacturing (AM): OEMs and supply partners will likely continue converting subtractive supply chains to AM as quality, automation, ease-of-use, equipment, and consumables advance. AM should become more accessible for point of care providers, broadening their manufacturing capabilities. We anticipate more research to be published by universities and research institutes covering a wider range of indications, which will catalyze the adoption of this disruptive technology.

Point of care manufacturing: Providers recognize the benefits of in-sourcing production of key surgical planning tools, instruments, implants, and advanced therapy medicinal products. Facilitating access to these devices and shortening lead times can improve patient care and improve control of the supply chain for PPE, critical equipment, and patient-specific devices often desired on short notice.

Point of care manufacturing became acute in 2020 as the pandemic took hold. As we look forward, we expect this trend to accelerate. Providers must recognize the significant manufacturing quality and regulatory requirements that they aren’t readily equipped to abide by on day one. Implementing these complex solutions will require collaboration with industry experts. One example is the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) contract with 3D Systems to establish U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-compliant manufacturing facilities within their hospitals for medical device production at the point of care. Our team will collaborate with the VHA to streamline its supply chain and accelerate innovation.

Regenerative medicine: Headlines in 2021 will be a mix of heralded technical advances from several firms and consortiums, as well as the continuing arms race between major players that will spur large mergers such as the $400 million acquisition by Integra LifeSciences announced on Dec. 16, 2020. Accordingly, we expect that 2021 will be an important year in the continuing evolution of regenerative medicine and its impact on the future of healthcare.


Menno Ellis is executive vice president, Healthcare Solutions, at 3D Systems.


Okuma: Taking inventory of what we’ve learned

By Jim King

Jim King

As we start to feel recovery, it’s time to take inventory of what we’ve learned and what technologies will enable us to compete post-COVID.

Virtual communication tools increase the speed of business. It’s not only possible to evaluate technology without sending high-value staff on the road, it’s sometimes more desirable. Even machine runoffs can be accomplished virtually.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has arrived and will have its place in the machine tool industry. Early stages will demonstrate the obvious applications, such as predicting unplanned maintenance events before they occur.

Digital twin is on its way, but still needs to undergo further development to be ready for significant market adoption. This technology will have an impact in the not-too-distant future.

Blockchain for manufacturing will provide a secure way to communicate amongst teams in a world with increasing cyber-attacks.

Automation will become a must in most shops. It’s not just robots. Bar feeders, pallet pools, and flexible manufacturing systems are some options that can increase productivity.

Get back to basics and make sure your foundation is sound. Control the things that are in your control.

The events of 2020 were all-consuming and made it difficult to plan. Now is the time to take steps to ensure a successful future. Focus on where you are in the continuum of automation, data use, and understanding the drivers in your business. 2021 will be a year of transition as we prepare for manufacturing to once again lead our economy out of darkness to new prosperity.


Jim King is president and COO at Okuma America Corp.

Stratview Research: Orthopedic composites

By Aniket Roy

Orthopedic medicine has been evolving throughout centuries with composite materials finding their importance in this field. Traffic accidents, sports injuries, osteosarcoma growth, and a surge in diabetes-related amputations are driving the global prosthetics and orthotics markets with the World Health Organization (WHO) noting 30 million people needed these devices in 2018.

Why composites? Composite materials are lightweight, durable, have excellent fatigue characteristics, and are corrosion resistant, however, the high costs act as a bottleneck for wider adoption.

COVID-19: Demand for composites in the orthopedics market fell more than 19% in 2020 as treatment for those suffering from non-COVID ailments (including orthopedic surgeries) took a backseat. The pandemic disrupted supply chains, leaving orders for required composites unfulfilled. The carbon-fiber lower limb prosthetics market has been tremendously affected due to postponing the Tokyo Paralympics to 2021.

However, Stratview Research predicts the demand for global orthopedic composites is likely to rebound to reach a market value of $316 million in 2026.

Attractive market segmentS: More than 80% of medical composites are used in lower limb prosthetics and orthotics, the former being the largest application. Lower limb prosthetics use will be propelled by high cases of lower limb amputations, improved global healthcare spending, and higher adoption of composite materials in artificial leg manufacturing.

Nylon fibers and acrylic resins are predominantly used in orthopedic composites. Other dominant materials include cotton, carbon fiber, glass fiber, vinylester, and epoxy. Though nylon composites have a higher market share, carbon-fiber composites, due to their excellent strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance, are widely adopted in lower limb prosthetics. Hence, the demand for carbon fiber composites is estimated to grow with the highest CAGR throughout the forecast period.

North America and Europe are forerunners in adopting orthopedic composites, together accounting for more than 75% share in 2020.

Road ahead: As the world recovers from COVID-19, the demand for composites will regain its momentum. Regenerative prosthetic and orthotic designs that use artificial intelligence (AI) will steer the market for composites in a new direction. With 3D printing advancements, the possibility of anyone being able to easily design and print a prosthetic limb will soon become a reality.


Aniket Roy is the digital marketing team lead at Stratview Research.