The healthcare industry uses four types to improve the current standard of care, while also helping humans to do things that they may not have been able to do in the past, or do things quicker and with fewer errors. Listed below are the leading medical robots, as identified by GlobalData.

Types of robots used in healthcare

Surgical Robots

Major manufacturers are increasing their R&D efforts within robotic surgical systems. The overall market is currently dominated by Intuitive Surgical, but the landscape is rapidly changing. The entrance of major manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson and Medtronicare is bolstering the medtech surgical robotics market.

There are specific product lines from each company focusing on individual therapeutic areas for minimally invasive robotic surgery. For example, the da Vinci System is a general surgical robot focusing on a myriad of surgical procedures in urological, bariatric, and gynaecological surgical procedures. Additionally, the MAKO System from Stryker specialises in orthopaedic surgery, specifically partial and complete knee replacements.

The key to market domination will be product proliferation, as each company tries to highlight its own features. Specific companies have remarkably distinct operation methods, such as seen with Intuitive Surgical compared to TransEnterix. Both companies offer robotic surgical systems with system specific attachments, but Intuitive has built-in chips to determine the use of their disposable accessories, and TransEnterix’s attachments are reusable.

The procedure volumes of robotic surgical procedures within the healthcare industry are growing rapidly as well. This growth can be attributed to the increase in the adoption rates of robotic surgical systems globally. Intuitive Surgical is the market leader, and its global procedures increased by 32% from 2017 to 2018.

Exoskeletons

Robots can aid recovery and assist with surgery. For example, Cyberdyne’s Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) exoskeleton, which uses sensors placed on the skin to detect small electrical signals in the patient’s body and respond with movement at the joint, are designed to assist patients rehabilitate from conditions leading to lower limb disorders, including spinal cord injuries and strokes.

Such devices are not cheap—the monthly rental for a HAL suit is expected to be $1,000—and the price will need to come down as output scales up and component costs of items including sensors, electronics, and electrical engineering decrease.

The exoskeleton market is one of the fastest growing segments in robotics. It includes bio-feedback waistband lumbar support for airport and warehouse workers, which are already a common sight in Japan. Advances in brain-machine connectivity will impact the evolution of exoskeletons. The leading companies in the field are Cyberdyne, ReWalk Robotics, and Ekso Bionics.

Care Robots

The number of robots used to provide care and support to elderly and disabled patients is currently very low, but is expected to increase significantly over the next decade, particularly in countries like Japan, which is facing a predicted shortfall in the number of available caregivers. Initial use cases for these products are relatively simple, such as helping people get into and out of bed, but they will increasingly be called upon to perform more complex tasks, from reminding patients when to take medication to providing emotional support and interaction for those lacking regular human contact.

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