The US’s medical equipment industry is thriving despite uncertain economic and political conditions in some of its key target regions around the world. One of the main factors behind this resilience and growth is the increasing investment in research and development being made by major players across the US. According to data from the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, research and development spending rebounded to $2.9 billion in 2010 and $7.3 billion in 2011 from a low in 2009. Larger medical device companies are expected to increase their research and development budgets by approximately 3 percent—and the rest of the industry roughly 5 percent—fueling growth through 2020.
Broadly, medical equipment is considered to be any device that is used to administer patient care. This encompasses medical tools for treatment and diagnosis across all healthcare disciplines, including products such as surgical tools, x-ray machines, patient beds, wheelchairs, and ventilators.
The medical equipment market in the US is currently dominated by medical and surgical instruments, which account for roughly 30% of total product shipments. The second-largest product segment is surgical appliances and supplies, accounting for more than 20% of shipments. Opthamalic goods, dental equipment and supplies, irradiation apparatus, electro-medical equipment, and in-vitro diagnostic substances make up the rest of the market. Additionally, many medical equipment vendors are also offering medical services.
Healthcare institutions (including hospitals, doctor’s offices, physical rehabilitation facilities, and others), senior or alternative living facilities, and individual customers are currently the key buyers of medical equipment products. The products that each customer segment prefers differs greatly—for example, individual consumers are, logically, more likely to purchase medical devices such as wheelchairs and walkers than they are diagnostic substances and x-ray machines.
According to government data, the top five largest consumers of medical equipment exports worldwide Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, and Belgium. There is also a healthy domestic market for medical tools and equipment as the United States is the world’s largest consumer of medical equipment.
The medical equipment market in the US is expected to continue to grow at a steady pace, encouraged by ongoing research and development investments. Other factors will also contribute to a healthy growth rate, including an improved focus on health worldwide and the establishment—or improvement—of public healthcare in many regions. Changing global regulations will also help to attract buyers to US medical equipment suppliers.
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