What Country Leads the World in Medical Innovation

United States of America and Medicine button on keyboard
United States of America and Medicine button on keyboard

We’ll get right to the point. The answer to the question, “what country leads the world in medical innovation?” is the United States. Medical industry professionals all over the world would have to agree that the top medical technology currently being used around the world has ties to the U.S.

There is a myriad of reasons for why the country that leads the world in medical innovation is the U.S. Europe and Canada have historically lagged due to their health care payment systems. Systems like theirs, where healthcare is largely funded by government and statutory insurance funds, tend to promote cost savings over innovation without the financial benefits of free-market systems. Medical innovation is also impacted by the fact that the European Union is comprised of 27 different countries, making regulation more nuanced.

However, the country that leads the world in medical innovation may not be the U.S. indefinitely as other countries enter the fold to create the best medical technology in the world.

For example, Canada has recently welcomed the opening of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, or JLABS. The vision of JLABS includes “enabling and empowering innovators across a broad healthcare spectrum including pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and health tech sectors to create and accelerate the delivery of life-saving, life-enhancing health and wellness solutions to patients around the world.” The Toronto location has several medical device companies incubating there.

France is also in competition to develop the most advanced medical technology. In 2020, French medical device company Carmat SA released the very first artificial heart ever to be developed and approved[EH1] [SZ2]  by a regulatory body. Another French medical device company, Quantum Surgical, is using robotics to treat and operate on patients suffering from liver cancer.

Israel is another country aiming to be a leader in medical innovation. According to the International Trade Administration, the country boasts a $6.2 billion medical technology market. Israeli medical device companies are known for repurposing military technology for use in medical innovation.

But don’t write the obituary for the U.S. as the leader in medical innovation. We have barely scratched the surface of innovation for mobile medical devices. American medical innovation is also on the cusp of monumental breakthroughs in health care delivery – using medical devices where pharmaceuticals have traditionally been used. In comparison to pharmaceuticals, medical devices have the potential to offer more targeted therapies, fewer side effects, and a shorter regulatory pathway than traditional drugs.

The Next Wave of American Innovation

A device released by NovoCure was one of the first medical devices used in place of traditional drugs to treat glioblastoma. The technology is based on using electrical stimulation and has extended to over the counter devices like the Quell wearable device used to combat pain.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work on a project at the University of Pennsylvania that utilized electrical stimulation in a body suit to treat osteoporosis. The suit, made by NASA, was infused with silver threads to conduct electrical impulses to a specific portion of the lower spine. This therapy was proven successful in modifying gene behavior to promote bone growth while having significantly fewer side effects than osteoporosis medications. [SZ3] [EH4] 

Sterling Medical Devices is currently working in partnership with Cedars-Sinai and Aytu BioScience, Inc. on the development of technology that could treat critically ill patients suffering from COVID-19 and other illnesses from viral infections. This Healight Platform Technology uses ultraviolet UV-A light to sterilize tissue in support of a patient’s immune response.

It is unlikely another country will dethrone the U.S. as the country that leads the world in medical innovation, but that won’t stop others from continuing to innovate. And there is certainly nothing wrong with healthy competition. No matter what country leads the world in medical innovation, the expansion of medical device complexities and emerging device technologies is good for the industry and future patients and loved ones.

Sterling Medical Devices has extensive knowledge working with cutting edge medical device technologies and a refined experience with modern medical device prototypes. If our medical device prototype development expertise can support your innovation, please contact us today.

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