The global hospital stretchers market is a unique one. On the whole, it is witnessing a steady rate of growth, yet there are certain niches within this market that are poised to boom in the coming years. Market reports published recently put the global hospital stretchers market at US$1.3 billion as of 2012. Market analysts expect that through 2019, this market will register a modest CAGR of 3.9% to notch US$1.7 billion in value.
A typical hospital stretcher has a lifespan of seven to ten years, with moderate use. This means that hospitals and care centers don’t make recurring investments in this piece of equipment. And when they do need to purchase new hospital stretchers, refurbished equipment is readily available in the market. Considering these aspects, innovation has not been the mainstay of the hospital stretchers market hitherto.
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However, as is the case with other medical equipment, conventions in the hospital stretchers industry are fast undergoing a change. The greatest change: Non-motorized stretchers are increasingly making way for motorized ones. This could prove to be a game-changer for the overall hospital stretchers market.
Growth will be steady, especially for technically advanced hospital stretchers
There is no dearth of growth propellers in the global market for hospital stretchers. While these drivers will ensure the steady expansion of the market, they are not influential enough to bring about drastic changes. An analysis of trends over the last few years shows that there are four key factors responsible for the expansion of this market: A rise in hospitalization numbers and surgical procedures, upward trend in ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), a rising geriatric population, and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases.
All of these factors are stirring up a higher demand for stretchers that are technologically-advanced. Motorized hospital stretchers are decidedly more comfortable, adjustable, offer ease of mobility, and better patient positioning. These features make motorized hospital stretchers more cost-efficient than their non-motorized alternatives.
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Increasing obesity to fuel demand for bariatric stretchers
The major product types in the hospital stretchers market are: fixed-height, adjustable, radiographic, and bariatric stretchers. While fixed-height stretchers saw the highest demand in 2012, the future market trends will tilt in favor of bariatric stretchers. These hospital stretchers—designed designed especially for obese patients—can withstand weights of up to 700 pounds. As obesity becomes an epidemic, the demand for bariatric hospital stretchers will be on an upswing. Bariatric stretchers will widely be required in stomach reduction, gastric bypass, and banding operations.
The hospital stretchers market can also be studied on the basis of technology, as motorized stretchers and non-motorized stretchers. The former will grow the fastest, with a CAGR of over 7% up to 2019. That’s not to say that non-motorized hospital stretchers will become obsolete. They will be in demand for hospitals that need low-cost equipment.
The hospital stretchers market can be split on the basis of application/department as well. The various applications are: Intra-hospital transport, day care surgery, emergency, radiology, and pediatric surgery. The highest growth among all applications will be observed in the day care surgery department, according to market analysts.
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Medical tourism boom will impel hospital stretchers market in Asia Pacific
Until 2012, this market was led by North America and Europe; the two regions constituted over 65% of the total hospital stretchers market share because of the higher number of hospital admissions and aging population here. In the near future, medical centers will likely invest in replacements rather than making first-time purchase decision.
However, Asia Pacific region tells an entirely different story. Here, the booming medical tourism industry and establishment of new healthcare facilities will spur a demand for new stretchers. Densely populated countries in this region will also witness a gradual increase in patient population – a factor conducive to the growth of the hospital stretchers market.