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Medicals Marriage with Semis

Medicals Marriage with Semis
by Pawan Fangaria on 03-26-2015 at 7:00 pm

 I remember a couple of decades ago, my father used to go to a nearby doctor’s clinic to get his blood pressure and sugar levels checked. I guess, in around 1990s small electronic kits became available to measure these usual daily health indicators and instantly display the numbers. I bought a few for my father then. Today, the scene is very different. Even your ECG (Electrocardiogram) can be done at your home, office, or wherever you are through a small portable and very much affordable ECG machine. There can be many such other examples. The ubiquity of such small and powerful healthcare systems has been possible with the infusion of semiconductor ICs and sensors into these systems. The semiconductor chips have not only disrupted the prices of computing and consumer electronics (e.g. PCs, mobile phones, households etc.), but also medical and healthcare systems. Along with making the prices affordable, the semiconductor chips have also made these systems automated and easy-to-use for the healthcare personnel, patients or healthy persons alike for preventive health check up.

It’s a very healthy sign that the medical semiconductor market is continuously growing. The ICs and sensors, specifically those used in small, powerful medical systems are driving the sales of ICs for medical purposes. The advancement has gone to the extent that a biotechnologically treated pill can also have micro-sensors, which after getting into your stomach can transmit intended signals about the condition of your stomach to the employed healthcare system (or even your Smartphone), and get out of your stomach with excretion without doing any harm to you.

The IC Insights’Medical Semiconductor Market Forecast report shows that the worldwide medical semiconductor sales CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) between 2013 and 2018 can grow to ~12.3% with a total sale reaching to $8.2 billion by the end of 2018. The CAGR was ~6.9% between 2008 and 2013. As we know, a medical semiconductor system may consist of optoelectronic, sensor/actuator or discrete (O-S-D) components along with the ICs, the report further suggests that the O-S-D portion can rise at a CAGR of 20.3% while IC portion can rise at a rate of 10.7%; albeit the total IC portion by the end of 2018 stays higher at $6.6 billion compared to $1.6 billion of O-S-D.

The O-S-D components are frequently used in optical imaging and diagnostic equipments. The advancements in SoCs, MEMS (Micro-electro-mechanical systems), and analog front-end data converter technology has given rise to portable and smaller size healthcare equipments which can be used at other places then just hospitals. Since their prices have also reduced significantly, they have become more affordable. This has opened up a new market for semiconductor medical ICs, embedded sensors and systems.

Today, small imaging systems can cost one-tenth the price of large diagnostic systems (such as MRI or CT scanners) installed in hospitals and can be used in doctor offices, clinics, or elsewhere. Wearable devices such as fitness band, sleep pattern monitor, cardiac monitor, and so on are giving rise to another dimension in the medical semiconductor system market. In this market, software apps are equally important along with the hardware medical systems.

It’s not only towards making portable medical systems, development of more powerful and integrated large medical systems are also happening that can be used at large scale. These systems can lower healthcare cost for treatment of severe ailments such as cancer which were either not possible or out of reach for common people due to their prohibitive costs. Detection of diseases sooner than later and preventive treatment including less invasive surgery has become possible today with the use of semiconductors. It is expected that the total medical electronics systems sales can reach to ~$70 billion by the end of 2018.

Semiconductors and medical systems are complimenting each other; the semiconductors make the medical systems available and affordable while the medical systems drive the growth of semiconductor market. Happy Marriage!!

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