- Surgeons expect robotic soft tissue procedure growth of about 17% on a compound annual basis into 2026, making the market one of the fastest-growing and under-penetrated in medtech, according to a survey conducted by analysts at J.P. Morgan.
- Intuitive Surgical will continue to dominate the robotic surgery market, supported by new indications and global expansion, with closest rival Medtronic still a few years away from gaining FDA approval, the analysts wrote Wednesday in a research note.
- In the survey of 25 high-volume surgeons, the doctors said key features they would like to see in new robots include easier docking, AI integration for tactile feedback, a smaller physical footprint, and better visualization and energy options.
Market leader Intuitive Surgical reported a 14% increase in sales growth and a 26% rise in procedures using its da Vinci robots in the first quarter as hospital backlogs eased. The analysts at J.P. Morgan see that momentum continuing for years to come, even as many hospitals face financial challenges.
Driving the growth will be hernia procedures, which are just beginning to be adopted in the U.S., and continued expansion in gynecologic and bariatric surgeries, they said. Younger physicians who are trained on the da Vinci robot and less adept at laparoscopy are expected to continue to be the primary driver of market penetration in the years ahead.
Medtronic, which is Intuitive’s closest competitor, is likely to receive FDA approval initially for just one or two indications, which compares with about 10 indications for the da Vinci robot, the analysts said.
“We don’t see a risk to Intuitive share given competition is still a long way out, by which time da Vinci will likely have new indications as well as a much more advanced hardware and AI software feature set, not to mention the deep hospital/clinical relationships, robust clinical evidence and ease of use/familiarity benefit make switching very expensive,” the J.P. Morgan analysts wrote.
The report predicted many larger hospital systems will move older-generation robots to outpatient settings to make room for new models in hospitals. “While we recognize the environment is challenging for some institutions, it is also clear that many hospital systems, particularly larger, more well-connected ones with an outpatient footprint are expanding aggressively into robotics on the heels of a post-COVID surge in patient demand,” the report said.
While Intuitive faces more competition in international markets, much of it comes from local or niche players, the analysts said. Lower robotic penetration rates and favorable demographic trends, particularly in emerging Asia, lay the foundation “for a long runway ahead,” the analysts wrote.