Taiwan’s traditional strength in ICT and focus on AI to benefit medical device industry, says GlobalData

Taiwan’s medical device industry is leveraging the strength of the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) manufacturing capabilities to overcome challenges and provide better and more accessible care to the elderly population through smaller and portable medical devices, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The healthcare sector in Taiwan is currently going through a challenging phase amidst the decreasing number of hospitals, shortage of healthcare professionals and increasing healthcare expenditure due to an increase in the ageing population. These issues are expected to deteriorate further in the future and become detrimental to the healthcare sector’s growth.

Prashant Khadayate, Medical Device Analyst at GlobalData, says: “These issues can be addressed in an effective way and turn the challenges into an opportunity. The medical device industry can use artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop affordable and comprehensive healthcare solutions focused on digital health, medical imaging, decision support, and precision medicine, and improve the overall healthcare sector performance.”

In the past two years, Taiwan has seen extensive public and private investment in AI. The Ministry of Science and Technology has invested US$515m to set up four AI centers at prominent Taiwan universities focusing on commercial applications.

GlobalData estimates the Taiwan medical devices market to increase from US$2.8bn in 2018 to nearly US$3.7bn by 2025 due to the growing elderly population and subsequent increase in the demand for healthcare products and services.

Traditionally, Taiwan medical device manufacturers mainly produced and exported mid-to-low-end devices. The country is dependent on imports of high-end medical devices, primarily from the US and Japan.

In April 2017, the Taiwan government announced to invest US$64m in Taiwan’s medical device industry with the aim of moving it up the value chain. The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and some of its partner companies, including iXensor, AmCad BioMed Corporation and Episonica, have already developed advanced medical imaging devices.

Khadayate concludes: “Taiwan’s medical device industry is on the cusp of transition as the government is focusing on developing the country as the ‘Silicon Valley of Asia’ and transforming Taiwan into a ‘Hub of Biotech and Medical R&D in Asia’. Both these initiatives are expected to create an ideal ecosystem, which will largely benefit the medical device industry. In addition, the high-end medical devices developed in Taiwan offer the same performance but are cost effective compared to their US and European counterparts. Embracing AI in medical devices will not only solve the local healthcare related issues but will also prepare the industry for global opportunities, where currently the US and European companies dominate.”

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