Rapidly Growing Market
The market for medical batteries is a rapidly growing one. First, medical technology is moving forward at a blinding pace, and most of the new devices that are under development require the mobility that a battery-powered system can provide. Secondly, there are a growing number of lifestyle-related health issues such as cardiac disease, diabetes, and obesity that require electronically powered monitors and other medical devices. Some of these devices regularly use hospital power from the wall socket but can switch to battery power when the patient needs to be moved from their room for testing or procedures.
North America dominates the market for medical batteries, primarily because of a broad application of medical technology in both the US and Canada. The large and increasing population in regions with growing economies, like Southeast Asia, China, and India, are expected to experience high growth in the medical battery market. As healthcare facilities in China, India, and the region improve, along with government funding for health care, the application of top-level medical technology will be a key driving force for medical batteries.
A Number of Players
Medical batteries, particularly the latest lithium-ion cells, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, powering everything from cardiac monitors and pacemakers, bioengineering devices, infusion pumps to external and implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Thin film and printed batteries are finding applications for miniaturized wearable and healthcare devices. There are many key players in the global medical batteries market. They include:
- Siemens Ag
- GE Healthcare
- Maxim Integrated
- Panasonic Corp
- Texas Instruments
- Quallion LLC
- Stmicroelectronics N.V
- Ultralife Corp
- Electrochem Solutions
- EaglePicher Technologies
- Boston Scientific
- Shenzhen A&S Power Technology Co., Ltd.
Although the global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decline in the medical battery market, this is expected to only be temporary as health care spending rapidly increases into 2021 and beyond, due to a need for electrically powered and portable diagnostic and therapeutic devices.
Helping Move Forward
For a long time, the specialized nature of medical batteries has made them expensive to develop and manufacture. With the big push presently taking place to develop ever-improving, more powerful, and reliable batteries, particularly lithium-ion batteries, for applications like personal electronics and electric vehicles, the medical battery market will benefit. Improvements and cost reductions in raw material extraction and processing will help medical battery production on the manufacturing side. A push to recycle the materials from lithium-ion batteries will eventually help further reduce costs and environmental impacts. Better energy densities and power outputs from more compact battery cells, needed for longer range, better performing EVs, can only help when the same technologies find their way into medical batteries.
There will always be a lag between the latest technology and what is acceptable for medical batteries. There are a host of different medical-specific requirements from different medical working groups and especially the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s important to prove that the batteries for medical devices will perform in the manner claimed. “It’s really hard to make a battery that’s going to last a long time, and it’s even harder to prove that it is going to last a long time,” summarized Caldwell.
Kevin Clemens is an engineering consultant who has worked on automotive and environmental projects for more than 40 years.