The global impact of COVID-19 is a chain reaction felt across the entire healthcare industry. According to Medtech market intelligence provider, Life Science Intelligence (LSI), many of the largest medical device & diagnostics companies were suddenly at risk of losing revenue by as much as 90%, while others, like manufacturers of medical masks and ventilators, and producers of COVID-19 diagnostics, saw a doubling in profits that exceeded supply. This chain reaction interconnects how medical equipment, supplies, and technology directly tie to the pandemic’s effect on general surgical procedures in the US.
Taking a close look at the number of surgical procedures in the US before, during, and after the pandemic and evaluating the results against investments in the digital surgery sector, it is apparent that opportunities are fruitful for startups that are positioning themselves to introduce cutting-edge technology that improves efficiencies and clinical outcomes in the OR.
Resilience and Consistency in the Longer View of General Surgery in the US
US general surgeries, encompassing procedures like appendectomies, esophageal surgery, and similar saw some of the most consistent trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, both in response to the 2020 outbreak and in the recovery phase that followed in 2021.
LSI’s Medtech Pro COVID-19 Impact Tracker reports that the total number of general surgeries in the US has remained around 23,000 on average from 2017-2019. In 2020, the effect of postponed procedures due to COVID-19 was evident in the dramatic decrease of this number, with only 20,416 general surgeries. The significance of this drop occurred across all categories of general surgical procedures in the US.
This correlation is strengthened by the increase in general surgeries. LSI estimated that 26,579 surgical procedures were performed in 2021. This increase is most likely attributed to patients and surgeons choosing to delay procedures until 2021 when medical facilities adopted more robust safety protocols to protect individuals during the peak of the pandemic. As a result, the average number of US general surgeries between 2020-2021 combined was nearly identical to the annual averages prior to COVID-19. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of all general surgical procedures in the US from 2017-2025 is 1.1%.
A Few Surgical Procedures Defy the Trend
Trends for some procedures did break from the norm. For instance, general esophageal surgery has been on the decline, with a CAGR of -3.4% between 2017-2025, but endoscopic esophageal procedures are on the rise during the same years and at a faster pace, with a CAGR of 7.4%. Across all surgical categories in the same time frame, endoscopic procedures are up by a CAGR of 3.3%. The reason for this shift to endoscopic procedures is likely due to its minimal invasiveness, lower costs, reduced trauma, and faster recovery times for patients.
All general laparoscopic procedures projected from 2017-2025 have a CAGR of 3.4%, with laparoscopic bariatric surgeries showing the most significant rise at a CAGR of 3.9%. This is despite the significant drop in 2020 in keeping with the decline in numbers across all categories. The same trend is nearly identical with laparoscopic herniorrhaphies, which project a 3.8% rise.
The most significant downtrend is with open appendectomies, trending at a -5.1% CAGR from 2017-2025. This is partly due to the preference for laparoscopic procedures, but regardless, volumes for all appendectomies are on a gradual decline.
LSI’s Medtech Pro US Procedure Tracker report on US surgical procedure volumes further provides an extensive breakdown of surgical categories month by month for each individual state in the US market from 2017-2025.
Data Talks—Lessons From a Pandemic
LSI’s Medtech Pro market report on the rapidly advancing innovations in medtech, predicts strong growth in sales, based on the integration of innovative digital surgery. COVID-19 has cleared the way for understanding that future solutions are needed in order to avoid the near-flat trend in general surgery. One solution is the integration of innovative digital surgery solutions.
Data brings new insights, which in turn helps the medtech industry improve through the use of AI and machine learning solutions, that when paired with digital surgery technologies can better prepare healthcare providers to overcome future events that could mirror the impact that COVID-19 had on the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers are counting on digital surgery solutions that increase efficiency in the operating room, offering a boost in revenue through improved patient care.
Global data speaks to similar trends as seen in the US that suggests the pairing of AI with remote access, like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), along with a presentation and diagnosis from remote tele-med solutions, will assist in boosting the number of procedures that can safely be performed under the threat of new variant outbreaks.
LSI’s Medtech Pro Startup Tracker provides a robust solution for researching hundreds of medtech startups like CMR Surgical, for instance, which has already raised over $975 million for their surgical robotic system, Versius. Hundreds of companies like CMR and their funding rounds are detailed in the LSI Medtech Pro Deals. This serves as a gauge for which problems the medtech industry and its investors can expect to be the most crucial and is equally telling regarding the opportunities available for new investors who are looking for undiscovered gems.
Making the Right Connections in Medtech
The most recent LSI Emerging Medtech Summit shined its spotlight on company presentations, from brand-new startups to established industry leaders. The Medtech Pro platform provides extensive data on startups, investment activity, exclusive presentations from previous events, and the opportunities available to investors to connect with innovative companies.
Whether the world gradually starts returning to normal or new challenges lead to new paradigms, medtech is positioned to remain a significant area for growth and returns on investment. The power is in the data, and the Life Science Intelligence Medtech Pro platform remains a powerful tool for unlocking new insights on the medtech industry.