The Medical Equipment Industry Made “Domestic” Breakthroughs


Stents, CT, high-performance color Doppler ultrasound... These hi-tech medical devices manifest the progress of the up-to-date technologies and provide a strong support for people’s health care. However, in our medical equipment industry, the lack of core technology in key components and the dependence on equipment import have been a “prolonged pain” that impedes the development. Medical equipment is essential for the development of the modern medical industry. However, most of the high end medical devices are far from affordable to grass-root institutions and ordinary people, which requires efforts to fasten the domestically manufacturing progress of high end medical equipment and lower the cost, thus continuously pushing the development of enterprises of national brands.

What’s pleasantly surprising is that with the joint efforts of all subjects, domestically-made medical equipment made an overall breakthrough during the “12th Five Year Plan” period - innovative achievements sprang up in a “spurt” kind of way. High end products such as MRI, CT, flat panel detector and electric stimulator made a series of important independent breakthroughs. Supply capacity of high technologies and high end products has been substantially improved, with some of the products having assured its place in the high end field. “Made in China” products gained more recognition worldwide. All these contribute to a big development structure of “from weak to strong in innovation abilities, from none to many in major products, from low to high in core technologies and from poor to good in application environment”.

Localization Displays a “Spurt" Situation

The medical device industry covers medicine, machinery, electronics, and other technical areas, the core technology of which includes medical polymer materials, laboratory medicine, hematology and life science. It is a multidisciplinary and capital-intensive high technology industry, which is not only the focus that all the large enterprises around the world compete for, but an important symbol of measuring the comprehensive strength and level of science and technology development of a country. According to the Several Opinions of the State Council on Promoting the Development of the Health Service Industry printed and distributed by the State Council, the total scale of the health service industry will reach to over CNY 8 trillion by 2020, including about CNY 1 trillion for medical devices.

The strategic objectives during the “12th Five-Year Plan” determined for the key special scientific project of the medical devices have been basically achieved. The new grassroots “three-major-items” including x-ray machine, ultrasound and biochemistry have been upgraded technically regarding the whole lines, the high-end products including MRI, color Doppler ultrasound, CT and PET/CT have been successfully made domestically, and the average cost of purchasing home-made medical devices is over 30% cheaper than that of purchasing the foreign brands, providing important support for the equipment configuration and service upgrade of the medical institutions, and powerful guarantee for the smooth promotion of health care reform in China. The medical devices industry continues to develop fast, with the speed far higher than the average growth rate of GDP; in 2001, the market scale of medical devices in China was CNY 17 billion, and it increased to CNY 300 billion in 2015; the market scale saw a 15-fold increase in 15 years, and the average annual compound growth rate reached 23%.

Development trend is boosted by state policies. 

The home-made medical devices ushering in the spring of development owing to relevant polices. According to the thought of “combining innovation drive and demand pull”, the decision-making level first draws the “road map” of localization at national level.

Substitutes for imported goods for solving the long pain are produced. 

If we say that the “12th Five-Year Plan” aims to produce the substitutes for imported goods, the objectives of the “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan” can be concluded by the following key words - “cutting-edge, critical, independent and lead”, so as to lead the international cutting-edge technology, accelerate the cultivation of the disruptive innovative technology, break through 10-20 key cutting-edge technologies, complete over 300 patent pools, and drive the development of a new generation of diagnosis and treatment equipment; in addition, the mainstream high-end products will be fully made domestically, product competitiveness will be increased, 40-50 original new products will be researched and developed, the development of new technologies including micro noninvasive treatment, artificial intelligent diagnosis and Smart Healthcare, will be driven. 8-10 large enterprise groups with international competitiveness, and 80-100 innovative high-tech enterprises with certain scale will be cultivated; and the medical groups in China will be encouraged to carry out the overseas technology integration, and make the layout of the frontier fields of the global medical devices in the future.