Powered by a surge in user technological-awareness, the acceptance of new technologies into smart beds and accessories will likely continue to grow in developed regions, reaching more complex, upgraded, and bold iterations in the near future.
Recent scientific achievements and technological advances have brought forward a massive display of new medical devices, enabled with highly-developed embedded-control functions and interactivity. From the final decade of the twentieth century, medical beds have particularly been affected by this surge, taking on new forms and functions, while accommodating established properties that have become well-known for these devices. The past 15 years have also brought forward changes to conceptual frameworks, concerning the product design and manufacturing processes (standards), as well as the patient (perspectives on patient-care environments and accessibility). It is expected that changes will continue to spread into further automation and design adaptations, with the smart bed becoming the heart of the smart patient-care environment of the future.
Indian market dynamics
In 2018, the Indian hospital beds market is estimated at Rs 750 crore with 125,000 units. The hospital beds contribute 50 percent to the total hospital furniture industry.
The Indian market for hospital beds is expected to increase at a significant rate due to large population base, and growing hospital infrastructure and continued government spend. This is prompted by increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and rising healthcare spending. On the basis of power, manual beds account for the largest and fastest growing segment. On the basis of treatment, acute care beds account for the largest segment, while critical care beds account for the fastest growing segment in the hospital beds market. Special features of hospital beds, such as adjustable heights of the bed and side rails controlled by electronic buttons, make them caretaker friendly and help provide better comfort to patients.
The discerning buyer is showing strong preference for mobility, rehabilitation beds. These beds enable excellent patient handling, are walkers, have total tilting and lift feature, and are motorized. Key players are actively engaged in the research and development for advanced hospital beds to improve patient safety. Technological advancements as air fluidized therapy beds, which offer a solution for wound care patients and provide better healing environment for the prevention and treatment of advanced pressure injuries are gaining preference. They cater to a niche market, and are imported. The rupee slide resulted in a major erosion of this sector in 2018.
The high-end and mid end segment continue to dominate the market with a combined 44 percent share, by value. Apart from being basic 5-function beds, they incorporate advanced features as being AC-powered, hydraulic adjustability, and powered patient rotation. Arjohuntleigh, which received a huge order from Medanta, Gurugram, dominates this segment with Paramount Beds a close second. Other aggressive players in the segment include Stryker, Hill Rom, Linet, and Midmark.
The low-end, semi-automatic and manual beds in unit terms continue to command a 50 percent share by volume and are primarily bought by new, small hospitals and nursing homes in metros and in tier-II and tier-III cities.
This segment is expected to continue to grow at 10-12 percent year-on-year, with 120,000-130,000 beds added every year.
Global market dynamics
The global hospital beds market is forecast to attain a size of USD 4.6 billion by 2023, estimates P&S Market Research. Distinguished by the presence of numerous vendors, the global medical beds market is highly competitive in nature. The international as well as regional market players, with strong market penetration and wide geographic reach, are now focusing on extending their products and services for gaining a competitive edge. However, regional vendors are finding it challenging to keep up with international players in terms of market reach, pricing, quality, and financial resources.
The healthcare sector has been witnessing a gradual inclination toward home-based services, from hospital-based services. This is mainly because healthcare services offered in hospitals, particularly during long duration of stays, are expensive. Long-term, home-based healthcare services reduce the overall costs for patients. This has been encouraging manufacturers and suppliers to increase their production capacities, in a bid to provide semi-automated and manual beds for home-based healthcare services.
Based on usage, acute care will account for the largest share of the global medical beds market in 2018, and is further projected to gain an uptick in its market share by 2023-end. Long-term care is also expected to witness a significant usage of medical beds in the near future, with shifting preference of patients toward home-based healthcare services. Sales of medical beds in psychiatric and bariatric care will reflect a sluggish expansion through 2023.
Non-intensive care applications of medical beds will account for nearly four-fifth share of the market over 2018 to 2023. Intensive care is likely to gain traction among medical beds applications in the near future, with increasing number of medical emergencies and surgeries fueling the requirement for post-operative care.
Increasing incidences of chronic diseases, and neurological diseases owing to rising geriatric population has surged the prevalence of hospitalization across the globe. This has significantly fueled demand for medical beds in hospitals. Hospitals are anticipated to remain the most lucrative end-users of medical beds, with sales forecast to account for approximately USD 2300 million revenue by 2022-end. Ambulatory surgical centers will remain relatively less lucrative end-users of medical beds than hospitals during 2018 to 2023.
Electric beds remain preferred choice among patients in the global medical bed market; however, sales of electric beds are expected to register the lowest CAGR through 2023. Semi-electric beds are expected to witness a steady expansion and will account for nearly USD 1000 million revenues by 2023-end.
Manual beds will also gain significant traction over 2018 to 2022, owing to their wide adoption in healthcare institutions that are devoid of sophisticated healthcare facilities. In addition, healthcare providers in rural regions depend highly on manual beds on the back of shortage in advanced medical facilities and affordability of manual beds.
Europe is anticipated to remain the largest market for medical beds, in terms of revenues. However, the market in Europe is projected to expand at a relatively lower CAGR than all the other regional segments through 2023. The market in Middle East & Africa will expand at a similar CAGR as that of Europe’s through 2023.
Monitoring and assistive solutions. Available as integrated functions for commercial beds and research proposals, patient monitoring is the most extended group among comprehensive proposals for the care of high-risk or long-term patients. Varied systems for fall and agitation detection, around the beds, can be valuable additions to the medical bed, allowing for patient-aware care environments and active sensor-networks. Similarly, pressure-distribution matrices over the support surface of the beds allow a comprehensive analysis on patient position, and may reduce the risk of developing pressure ulcers. Based on acquired data concerning the state of the patient or device, these monitoring proposals can show the detected state, emit alarms, or act autonomously against detected hazards. Patient-motion sensors, in contact with the subject, can perform similar tasks concerning the detection and alert of lack of mobility, as isolated additions. Integrated, non-invasive vital-sign acquisition from the bed has also been a matter of research over the past years. A consumer-ready device can be placed under the mattress, and heart and breathing rates acquired, as well as patient motion and register caregiver-response time estimated. Outside the medical bed, entertainment systems with infrared sensors have been valued and are being studied for non-invasive heart rate detection. Head-of-bed angle indication and logging is important for the prevention of secondary conditions associated with immobility, and requisites concerning its state vary depending on the condition of the patient. While incorporated into high-end current devices, the addition of this functionality in manual devices through MEMS sensors is a low-cost addition with great positive potential. Many current technologies are, likewise, sufficiently developed to allow for low-cost derived solutions, integrating these into less-developed healthcare environments. Finally, patient-motion assistance is another field of research that is valued for the care of the older and disabled patients, with research solutions, as well as consumer-ready devices incorporating such features, so that the device supports patient motion, instead of replacing it.
Accessibility interfaces for smart beds. Directed to the treatment of subjects with temporary or permanent restricted mobility, medical beds benefit from past and current accessibility inventions and developments, both in terms of their actuation-means, as well as in terms of their user-interfaces. Among these solutions, environmental control units (ECUs) currently stand out as available additions to the medical beds environment, controlling some medical beds. These systems are among the most used accessibility-technologies by patients with spinal cord injury. Basic inputs to ECUs include accessibility switches, sip-puff controls, and pressure sensors, and their impact on the quality of life of patients is a matter of research. Over the past decades, this concept has been considered by research solutions for healthcare facilities, with inventions aiming at supplementing beds control. Speech control, for instance, is considered and implemented on a limited number of cases, as an accessory ECU or incorporated into some devices. The promise of speech control for these devices is not new, with a patent from 1991 describing an ECU for a hospital bed and its environment. The effectiveness of speech recognition, however, was more limited at that time, as compared to current models and consumer-ready systems.
Technology-assisted healthcare environments. Surrounding the medical beds, the integration of information-technologies into the patient-care environment has changed the way patient-information and treatments are handled. Updated user interfaces, dedicated to patients and caregivers, have emerged over the past decade, both as consumer-ready solutions and research projects, covering the management of patient records, and control over the near environment (like TV and lights). As medical beds become smarter, interaction with smart environments becomes a possibility. A growing trend, it looks to change the experience of the healthcare environment for patients, providing new means of communication and entertainment at their reach, particularly aimed at patients with restricted mobility (acute, recovering, and long-term patients). These proposals integrate connectivity and a higher control over the environment, while including informative resources concerning different conditions. Even when not including control over the beds itself, these interactive patient-care systems may integrate a touchscreen through adjustable stands.
The development of personalized healthcare and medical devices for injuries and chronic diseases has been deemed as one of the most impactful and feasible challenges to be tackled by biomedical engineers in the near future, and the evolution of medical beds and devices in the immediate surroundings of the patient is instrumental to these advances. The core of these projects stem from a thorough vision concerning the patient’s experience of this environment, valuing the possibility of empowering patients in their own care, through a more fluid interaction with their surroundings.
The road ahead
The future of hospital beds will be shaped by the continued, conscious supplement of technologies into the healthcare environment. A prospective analysis on the evolution of healthcare systems will be necessary for the definition of proper strategies, in order to provide better, adapted services (expectations concerning number of beds and resources needed). As for patients and environments, research is heading in the way of providing even further functionality and integration with the medical bed. Embedded monitoring, autonomous responses, and accessibility-enabled systems can take full advantage of the potential of these devices, while also posing future challenges in the development of reliable solutions for the severely disabled.
While features like autonomy and embedded functionality may hint at an apparent detachment from the work of health specialists at this point in time, the need for multidisciplinary insight will, actually, become more urgent in the development of successful healthcare solutions. Research and study on healthcare-environment related solutions is of great need in a context of a globally aging population, where disability will have an even greater impact. Accessibility-enabled smart medical beds have the potential of becoming the center of new, comprehensive, and patient-conscious healthcare environments.