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Oxygen technologies will continue to evolve

Oxygen technologies will not only continue to be focused on medically accurate and improved oxygen therapy and delivery/recycling methods, but also incorporate much more software and intelligence in the design and lighter-weight models.

Oxygen therapy, like all technology-based treatments, is continuously evolving. There are no doubts on its effectiveness in the treatment of acute and respiratory failure in different clinical scenarios. However, the dosing guidelines for oxygen therapy are not as strict as for other treatments. The use of higher than necessary flows over excessively long periods, derived from the clinician’s perception of it as a life-saving treatment with few side effects, has led to a rather liberal use of this intervention, despite evidence that overuse and suboptimal adjustment can be harmful. The titration of oxygen therapy, which is traditionally performed manually, has been shown to be beneficial.

Recently, new devices have been developed that automatically adjust oxygen flow rates to the needs of each patient, in order to maintain stable oxygen-saturation levels. These closed-loop systems can potentially reduce medical error, improve morbidity and mortality, and reduce care costs.

Market dynamics
The global medical oxygen concentrators market size was valued at USD 1.93 billion in 2019, and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 7.4 percent over the next 5 years. Increasing prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and technological advancements are the key factors driving this market. Moreover, rising geriatric population base, which is susceptible to chronic diseases, will also augment the product demand, thereby driving the glotbal market.

Technological innovations in concentrators is further propelling the market growth. Key companies are developing and modifying products, thereby intensifying competition.

Product insights. The portable segment led the global market in 2019 with a revenue of USD 935 million, anticipated to register the fastest CAGR. Increasing demand for lightweight and portable concentrators, growing geriatric population base, and increasing younger population suffering from COPD are the key factors driving the demand for portable medical oxygen concentrators. Portable devices are utilized for oxygen therapies for higher oxygen concentrations than the levels of ambient air. This equipment is mostly feasible for travelers owing to advantages like smaller size, better mobility, and higher oxygen capacity suitable for all circumstances. Increasing prevalence of various respiratory disorders is expected to boost the demand for portable devices. Furthermore, significant shift in favor of portable products, in terms of reimbursement coverage, would further strengthen the segment growth.

Various advantages offered by these concentrators like continuous supply of oxygen that increases survival chances, improvements in exercise tolerance, ease of handling, less maintenance, improved battery power, and authorized use of concentrators in air planes and airports, will drive the segment further. Stationary concentrators are expected to witness a steady growth of 3.3 percent from 2020 to 2025. These devices offer more stable source of oxygen, hands-free operation, and longer tubing as compared to portable ones.

Application insights. Homecare medical-oxygen concentrators dominated the overall market in 2019 and accounted for 55.4 percent of the total revenue share, with factors like increasing geriatric population, growing prevalence of COPD, and rising demand for home healthcare oxygen therapies. Home oxygen concentrators promote independence and make it easier and safer for the patient to complete their daily activities.

As COPD is mostly diagnosed in middle-aged and older people, in severe cases, doctors recommend oxygen therapies with home oxygen concentrators that help with shortness of breath. Homecare medical oxygen concentrators include portable and stationary oxygen concentrators, mostly used in home oxygen therapies. Therefore, the homecare segment is also anticipated to emerge as the fastest growing segment with a lucrative growth in coming years.

The non-homecare segment is expected to grow at a steady growth rate of 5.9 percent over the next 5 years. Non-homecare use of oxygen concentrators is mainly applicable for healthcare centers and hospitals. Major factors attributing to the market growth are increasing prevalence of COPD, respiratory disorders including asthma, occupational lung diseases, and growing geriatric population with weak immunity prone to infectious diseases.

Technology insights. Continuous-flow technology segment led the overall market in 2019 with rapid technological and product advancements. NSBRI smart medical systems and technology with their constant innovations like development of pressure swing adsorption technology, suitable for astronauts to fulfill the oxygen requirements in spacecraft, will help boost the growth further. Increasing prevalence of chronic breathing problems and ongoing use of respiratory equipment for oxygen therapies will also fuel the segment growth. Pulse-dose technology is anticipated to witness the fastest CAGR of 10.1 percent. This technology is considered as the demand flow of oxygen supply.

Advantages like high mobility, improved technologies, better comfort, and increased efficiencies offered by the technology will augment its demand in the global market. Pulse-dose technology is widely used for portable concentrators, and is safer and reliable than continuous-flow technology, since the devices are equipped with a sensor with capability to detect the next inhalation. It has been estimated that a pulse-dose device has an upper limit of 40 breaths per minute. At the point when breath rate increases up to 40 BPM, the device still delivers a dose in every breath.

Regional insight. North America was the largest market, in terms of revenue share, in 2019 with the presence of developed home healthcare services, high prevalence of respiratory disorders, and favorable reimbursement policies in the US. Increasing geriatric population in North America is also one of the most significant drivers responsible for the region’s growth.

Favorable government initiatives, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which authorize the use of portable concentrators during air travel, are also likely to contribute to the region’s development. Moreover, the presence of key companies, like SeQual, Inogen, Invacare, Oxus, AirSep, Philips Respironics, and Inova Labs Inc., in the region will further augment the growth.

Asia-Pacific is expected to emerge as the fastest-growing region during 2020–25. The market in India is emerging as a dual market. Increasing prevalence of COPDs and other respiratory disorders are some of the factors attributing to its rapid growth. Furthermore, increasing healthcare expenditure, awareness regarding the technological advancements used in diagnosis, and demand for portable concentrators are set to drive the regional market further.

Market players. The market is highly fragmented with the presence of companies, including Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Inc., Philips Healthcare, Invacare Corporation, Nidek Medical, Inogen, Inc., AirSep Corporation, and ResMed. Manufacturers are striving to increase their market share through strategies like development of new products and advancements in the existing ones and mergers and acquisitions.

Moving toward the portable
Portable oxygen concentrators have started a revolution in the medical oxygen industry, with their use having sky-rocketed over the last 5 years.

Portable oxygen technology is ever-evolving and improving, with PoCs at the heart of it. This is driven by the increasing demand for these devices, which in turn has been driven by an increase in diagnosed sufferers requiring oxygen therapy, improved availability, and increased affordability. These factors are constantly driving down costs for the industry, allowing them to reinvest to improve devices whose demand then continues to help grow the industry and improve it. However, it seems these advancements will come with a little give and take.

Patients and doctors want smaller, lighter, quieter devices that also have a higher oxygen output and a longer battery life. The providers also want in addition more durability, reliability, and all at a lower cost.

As with other technologies if you move in one direction to improve a singular feature, it often has a negative impact on another and getting the balance is difficult. The patient is the final target audience and their requirement for freedom will be the ultimate guidance for the future of oxygen technology. They require the freedom to easily fly, drive, or boat, and do daily activities without worrying about running out of oxygen. Freedom also comes from not waiting on deliveries from the oxygen supplier, and all this provides patients with the chance to feel normal again.

A main inhibiting factor on their advancement is the highly competitive nature that the industry has evolved into. This has led to providers dramatically lowering prices in order to maintain market share, which is highly beneficial to the patient; however, it leaves less money available for re-investment into research to drive improvements. With the steep increasing trend of COPD diagnosis around the world, it seems there will be an ever-increasing number of patients and, therefore, providers seeking to purchase POCs which will then still allow for re-investment.

It is hoped that the units will become smaller and lighter with increased battery life, which is very important, as the current units are not as portal as they could be for end-stage COPD patients. No doubt, PoCs are still in their genesis but the ultimate goal is that the POC is also the primary oxygen concentrator, so that only one unit is required.

Making something increasingly portable also brings along other problems, and the unit then needs to be made increasingly durable and resistant to banging and dropping and other associated hazards. Replacing a bolt or armrest on a wheelchair is a lot easier and less of an inconvenience to the user than replacing a part in a PoC.

Way forward
Future oxygen technologies will not only continue to be focused on medically accurate and improved oxygen therapy and delivery/recycling methods, but also incorporate much more software and intelligence in the design and lighter-weight models. In order for companies to drive down costs, more of a focus may also be put on patient maintenance and repair so that parts can be cleaned or replaced easily by the patient himself without the need of having to send the unit back and forth to the manufacturer. 

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