The Medical Technology Industry in the United States
The United States remains the largest medical device market in the world: $156 billion (40 percent of the global medical device market in 2017). By 2023, it is expected to grow to $208 billion. U.S. exports of medical devices in key product categories identified by the Department of Commerce exceeded $43 billion in 2018.
The medical technology industry (commonly referred to as medical devices) consists of articles, instruments, apparatuses, or machines that are used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease, or for detecting, measuring, restoring, correcting, or modifying the structure or function of the body for some health purpose. Typically, the purpose of a medical device is not achieved by pharmacological, immunological, or metabolic means.
The industry includes almost 2 million jobs in the United States, including both direct and indirect employment. Medical technology directly accounts for well over 300,000 of these jobs. More than 80 percent of medical device companies in the United States consist of fewer than 50 employees, and many (notably start-up companies) have little or no sales revenue. U.S. medical device companies are highly regarded globally for their innovative and high technology products.
R&D spending continues to represent a high percentage of medical device industry expenditures, averaging 7 percent of revenue. Compared to several other industries including automotive, defense, and telecommunications, the medical device industry invests a higher percentage of yearly revenues into product innovation, reflecting the competitive nature of the industry and constant innovation and improvement of existing technologies.
The medical device industry relies on several industries where the United States holds a competitive advantage, including microelectronics, telecommunications, instrumentation, biotechnology, and software development. Collaborations have led to recent advances including neuro-stimulators, stent technologies, biomarkers, robotic assistance, and implantable electronic devices.
Since innovation fuels the medical device sector’s ongoing quest for better ways to treat and diagnose medical conditions, when coupled with patient life expectancy increasing and aging populations globally, the medical device sector should continue growing at a positive rate in the future.