A robot was first used medically in 1985 to assist in performing a brain biopsy. Since then, it is heralded as an emerging field that could bring a paradigm shift in healthcare.
Medical robotics includes:
· Surgical robots
· Rehabilitation robots
· Non-invasive radio surgery robots
· Robotic catheters
· Telemedicine robots
· Hospital robots.
The need for minimally invasive surgeries is actuating the market of surgical robots and there is no exaggeration in saying that in future a surgeon will be solely supervising while a robot performing the surgery. Several robotic systems have been approved by FDA for performing various kinds of surgeries such as general surgery, laparoscopic and spinal surgeries. Robot assisted surgery has already proven to be of immense value particularly in comparison to conventional procedures and it will remain vital in future as these therapeutic devices maximizes the clinical effectiveness of therapy.
The top players in this market are:
· Intuitive Surgical Inc.,
· Accuracy Incorporated
· Stryker Corporation.
Rehabilitation market is headed by:
· Hocoma AG
· Ekso bionics
· ReWalk robotics.
v Overcoming the limitations of conventional surgeries and also improved clinical outcomes with rehabilitation robots driving the market
The minimally invasive surgeries have advantages such as improved surgical results, minimal incisions and reduced hospital stay. When it is coupled with robotic technology, adds further benefits such as improved accuracy and precision, cosmetically appealing incisions and reduced surgeon’s tremors. Americas are leading the market for medical robotics as more number of manufacturing companies are concentrated in this region and also there is an improved acceptance of robots in healthcare in this region. Europe is the emerging market but Asia – Pacific is the region holding significant promise for medical robotics market as many big players are steering towards this region to distribute their products. Japan can be seen as the country with wide market scope as it has already got significant number of installations and it is also the region after Americas leading in robot assisted radio therapy market.
Rehabilitation with aid of robotics is new to the arena of rehabilitation therapy as only occupational and physiotherapies are practiced till now which are very labor intensive. There are about millions of people who get affected with stroke each year. Exoskeleton and assistive robots are bringing new life to the stroke affected and disabled people by aiding them in living an independent life. Prosthetic robots are assisting amputees and disabled persons in performing their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
v Cost affordability, low acceptance are hindering the growth of medical robotics
Medical robotics is quite an evolving field and its capabilities have already been realized but the journey from the research to commercialization is not smooth for this market as installations are extremely costly and only large hospitals are able to afford them. Difficulties involved in getting regulatory approvals and also imprecise reimbursement policies across various geographic regions is another major constraining factor for the growth of the medical robotics market. The medical robots have also not achieved significant acceptability from both the surgeon and the patient. The number of rehabilitation centers using rehabilitation is quite low but it can be estimated that the market is going to flourish as clinical outcomes are more biased towards robotic rehabilitation. The medical robotics is envisioned to transform the healthcare industry and its potential should be extended to unexplored areas to completely extract their benefits in all the medical disciplines.