The Indian neonatal equipment industry is on the brink of a major change, with the Make in India regime to promote manufacturing of medical devices in the country and the establishment of newborn care units to improve the status of neonatal care in the country.
Increasing pressures to leverage new technologies to make care safer, more efficient, and cost-effective have pushed the boundaries of neonatal care, opening the doors of neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) to an era of smarter, safer, and wireless technologies. Advances in sensing and monitoring technologies in NICUs have enabled easier and faster measurement of a wider range of physiologic parameters. Current patient monitors in the NICU have channels to incorporate the ECG recordings, respiratory rate and airflow, oxygen saturation over time, invasive arterial blood pressure, and temperature. The value-based healthcare model has led to the development of well-equipped NICU centers along with increasing number of approvals for these devices from the FDA. Modern neonatal ventilators are getting smarter, with wider range of support options and monitoring, in parallel with improvements in noninvasive respiratory support. Advances in conventional CT, MRI, and ultrasound imaging of neonates have gained traction in the past one year, opening up new insights into brain injury and disease. The U.S. FDA clearance of the first MRIdevice specifically for neonatal brain and head imaging in NICUs is anticipated to take fetal imaging and diagnosis to the next level.
In the past few years, neonatal care in India has become a priority due to the concerns over the infant mortality rates. Advanced NICUs have been established in teaching and nonteaching hospitals in large cities, whereas smaller cities and towns have witnessed a dramatic growth in the number of nurseries for newborns in small private hospitals and nursing homes. In the public sector, the delivery points at sub centers, primary health centers, community health centers, and district hospitals have been equipped with resuscitation equipment, including Made in India self-inflating bags, warmers, and suction units. Under National Health Mission, more than 700 state-of-the-art special newborn care unit (SNCUs) have been established across the country to provide 247 comprehensive care to the newborns by dedicated trained staff. With these initiatives to promote neonatal care in the country, the future of neonatal equipment innovation, production, and scale-up is brighter than ever.
The Indian neonatal equipment industry is on the brink of a major change, with the Make in India regime to promote manufacturing of medical devices in the country and the establishment of newborn care units to improve the status of neonatal care in the country. The Made-in-India resuscitation bags, phototherapy units, weighing scales, and radiant warmers have taken a firm hold in the Indian neonatal equipment industry. India is almost entirely self-reliant in terms of phototherapy units and infant warmers, but still depends on the international market vendors for CPAP equipment, ventilators, and incubators. Breakthrough innovations in the technology and affordable neonatal care equipment will go a long way in making India a hub of affordable healthcare technologies.
With the goals of attaining Single Digit Neonatal Mortality Rate by 2030, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released operational guidelines for planning and implementation of family participatory care (FPC) for improving newborn health, in July 2017. The guidelines provide details of infrastructure, training, role of health care providers, and steps in the operationalization of FPC in the newborn care unit.
Facility-based newborn care (FBNC) is being scaled up for care of small or sick newborns by establishing SNCUs at district hospitals and medical colleges and newborn special units (NBSUs) at the level of first referral units (FRUs) to provide round the clock services for sick newborns.
UNICEF India played a key role in partnership with the state governments in the early operationalization and expansion of these services in the country. UNICEF India, in 2016, focused on institutional capacity building to improve coverage/quality of skilled attendance at birth, strengthening facility-based newborn care at SNCUs, linking facility-based and community care, and strengthening real-time monitoring systems for newborns. SNCUs scale-up in high-priority districts continued, and the number of functioning SNCUs increased from 63 percent to 73 percent (77/107) since 2015, according to the UNICEF India Annual Report 2016.
In 2016, SNCU development accelerated in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and North East, where earlier progress had slowed. The SNCU real time monitoring system developed by UNICEF was scaled up in 11 more states, covering 541 SNCUs across 28 states, in 2016 from 440 SNCUs in 17 states, in 2015. With these initiatives gaining momentum, the status of neonatal care in India is anticipated to improve over the next few years.
Global Market Dynamics
The global fetal and neonatal care equipment market was valued at USD 6.7 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.6 percent over the next few years, states Grand View Research. The neonatal care equipment industry is undergoing changes in regards to regulatory protocols, preventive care, reimbursement models, healthcare digitization, patient interests, physician preferences, and executive priorities. Stakeholders need to be aware of the challenges posed by the industry and anticipate new ways to find business models and capitalize on the market transformation.
Fetal monitors are anticipated to witness fastest growth rate in the coming years, owing to their utility in determining the baby's heart rate during pregnancy and labor. Fetal monitoring devices are essential as they allow continuous monitoring of the baby's heart rate and contractions and assist in labor too. Monitoring devices segment held the largest share in the year 2016, owing to factors such as constant technological advancements in neonatal monitors including improvements in connectivity and ease-of-use in home settings. On the other hand, respiratory devices are expected to exhibit fastest growth rate owing to increasing demand for respiratory care in neonatal in order to reduce the length of hospital stay and risk of long-term disability.
Asia-Pacific market is anticipated to register the fastest growth development in the forecast period. Increasing number of government initiatives in developing countries such as India have established strong demand for pediatric health equipment.
In July 2017, Phoenix Medical Systems partnered with Windmill Health, to present NeoBreathe, one of the world's first foot-operated newborn resuscitation systems.
In May 2017, Masimo announced FDA 510(k) clearance of O3 regional oximetry for pediatric patients.
In March 2017, GE Healthcare acquired Monica Healthcare for its advanced fetal monitors, to expand the company's digital maternal–infant care offerings.
In November 2016, Hamilton Medical released the Hamilton-C1 neo versatile neonatal ventilator that combines invasive and noninvasive modes, with the additional options of nCPAP and high flow oxygen therapy. Drger introduced the new IncuWarmer Babyleo TN500, offering optimal thermoregulation in open care, closed care, and transition.
In January 2016, Maquet Medical Systems launched a dedicated neonatal intensive care solution, SERVO-n sensitive and responsive in conventional modes of ventilation and compensates for variable leakage.
The technological advancements in the neonatal care equipment have paved a way for the introduction of modern neonatal ventilators, advanced fetal imaging, and contact-free monitoring. At present, monitoring technology in the NICU requires multiple wired sensors to track each baby's vital signs. The large number of wires in and around the incubator might be reduced by introducing wireless systems. Ongoing researches in the industry focus on implementing wearable, wireless devices in the NICUs facilitating a safer environment for the neonates.
Neonatal imaging using an MR-compatible incubator. A research team led by Catherine Limperopoulous, at the Children's Research Institute, Children's National Health System, Washington DC developed an MR-compatible incubator with an integrated head coil designed for neonates and small babies to provide comfortable transportation of the baby from the NICU to the MR scanner.
Neonatal brain imaging system. In a research project funded by European Research Council, a team of researchers at the Centre for the Developing Brain, Perinatal Imaging and Health, Kings College, United Kingdom, designed a neonatal brain imaging system (NBIS) consisting of a dedicated 32-channel receive array coil and a positioning device that allows placement of the infant's head deep into the coil for maximum signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).The system makes it possible to push the technical boundaries of MRI in the neonatal brain to attain high-resolution anatomical, which was not previously achievable in neonatal imaging. The positioning system allows to exploit the SNR, gain capability and demonstrates substantial benefits for imaging neonates in natural sleep by minimizing handling and reducing the startling effect associated with the start of scan sequences. When combined with retrospective motion correction to eliminate scan repeats, it has been possible to achieve near-perfect success rates with artifact-free images. The system is now being applied to a much wider range of neonatal brain imaging studies.
Epidermal electronics. Researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois, US, led by John Rogers, have developed incredibly thin, stretchable electronic patches for monitoring a wide variety of vital signs and bodily movements. These patches, still under human trials, are reported to have a strong potential to make human healthcare and rehabilitation much more efficient and effective. The patches are created by putting tiny semiconductor chips on a stretchable substrate embedded with wavy patterns of metal filaments, which make it possible to carry electrical signals. The device uses tiny antennae to transmit information wirelessly, and can be a game changer in changing the NICUs in future to a wireless unit.
The increasing demands for high-end, technology-integrated, home-based infant care and neonatal solutions mirror the healthcare industry's shift toward value-based care. There is a need for affordable technologies that can conveniently reach and cater to customers in the low-income settings and assist in disease monitoring through diagnostic applications on mobile phones.
The face of NICUs has been evolving significantly with advancements in technology gripping the neonatal care equipment industry. Strengthening of delivery points for providing comprehensive and quality reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCH+A) services, ensuring essential newborn care at all delivery points, and establishment of SNCUs and NBSUs are giving a boost to the neonatal care status in India. With the Make in India initiatives to boost the manufacturing of medical devices in the country, the Indian neonatal equipment industry is anticipated to flourish in the years to come