Printed, flexible, and organic electronics to cut costs in USD 300 Billion medical devices market, says Lux Research

July 27, 2012 // By Julien Happich
Emerging technologies in printed, flexible, and organic electronics are poised to impact the USD 300 billion global medical device market as governments, insurers and patients seek to bring down healthcare costs, according to Lux Research.

Heavy regulation and reimbursement challenges create high barriers to entry for medical devices, creating more near-term opportunity in consumer-driven applications. Conductive textiles, heart rate sensors, and respiration sensors create attractive devices for the athletic and neonatal markets, as athletes looking for an edge and anxious parents drive demand.

“The value proposition of printed, flexible, and organic electronics varies across technologies, application, and markets. While each of the three provides its own selling point, they substantially overlap, opening up exciting new options,” said Jonathan Melnick, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “ Keeping the Doctor Away: The Opportunities for Emerging Electronics in Healthcare .”

“For example, flexible electronics can be integrated devices that can be worn continuously with little discomfort from new products like vital-sign-monitoring athletic apparel to sensors for 'mobile health' – and many of these devices will be made through the printing of organic materials,” he added.

Lux Research analysts assessed the emerging sensor, treatment, and electrode technologies across eight markets to uncover substantial business opportunities for printed, flexible, and organic electronics in healthcare.

Some key findings

The lifestyle sensor scores were mostly clustered in the middle, meaning that there is a good technical value fit for many markets, but not one stand-out technology or market to drive adoption. Single-sensor single-market devices are unlikely to succeed. The requirements of the best-scoring markets – athletics and military – are similar, so that multi-sensor, multi-market devices may be a feasible way to capture this broad opportunity.

There’s high technology value for heart rate sensors, but ECG and blood pressure lag. Heart rate sensors scored highest due to its integration with other sensors, low cost, and consumer- digestible information. However, emerging ECG and blood pressure sensors could not stand up to incumbent solutions due to the relatively high-cost of emerging solutions and the lack of an appropriate market fit for the performance advantages of printed, flexible, and