Medical technology is a field within engineering that deals with the invention, construction, and maintenance of medical technology devices. The branch is subject to strict regulations, such as the EU Medical Devices Regulation (MDR), but is constantly growing.
Medical technology deals with the development and manufacture of products and devices that serve the therapy, diagnosis, and prevention of diseases. From ergometers for cardio training to special devices for slowly restoring mobility after operations or accidents to computer tomographs, everything is medical technology: Each of these devices (and many other devices used in the medical field) are developed and built by engineers for their very specific purpose and improved.
Depending on whether you look up the definition of the term medical technology in a general dictionary or ask one of the ministries responsible for health in the broadest sense, the definition of the term can be quite abstract. But one thing is always the same: medical technology products are devices that exert a physical influence on the body, in contrast to the pharmacological, immunological, or metabolic effects of drugs.
Mostly small and medium-sized companies
Numerous companies in Germany develop and manufacture medical technology products. They are mostly small and medium-sized companies, including many micro-enterprises and even start-ups. Many of them have fewer than 20 employees. In total there are 12,560 companies, of which more than 11,000 have 20 or fewer employees. The better-known and larger companies include Siemens Healthineers, Dräger, Philips Healthcare, B. Braun Melsungen, and Ottobock.
The German medical technology industry is a fast-growing sector that already generated more than two-thirds of its sales through exports in 2017. The industry is number 1 for patent applications, there are simply so many innovations in this area. Fast pace counts: Most sales in the medical technology sector are generated with products that have been around for three years or less. Counterfeit products, on the other hand, bring very little profit. In medical technology, companies often work closely with research institutions, including the Fraunhofer societies. Research projects are often funded, including with EU funding projects.
Trade fairs provide information about new products
At the moment, most innovations are being created in connection with digitization (keyword eHealth) and 3D printing. The respective new developments are presented at trade fairs, for example
- the Compamed
- Medtec Europe
- the MT Connect
These trade fairs are more important for medical technology than pure medical trade fairs. Even at the world’s largest medical trade fair, Medica in Düsseldorf, only the fully developed and series-produced devices and their benefits in the context of therapies are presented. If you are interested in technology, this is not the place for you.
Of course, the tasks in medical technology differ according to the choice of profession. In general, people who work in this area have a high affinity for technology and/or medicine. The core activity is limited to the design and production of medical products, which often includes technical devices in the medical sector.
Medical technicians, therefore, work in companies that produce equipment for clinics or practices. However, they can also be employed in a medical facility to maintain that equipment.
Employees in this industry can also work in research institutions or universities to research the further development of technical devices. At the same time, they can also train medical staff on how to use any equipment.
The situation on the labor market is comfortable in medical technology. Commercial companies are constantly looking for new staff, and the need for medical products and devices is growing rapidly. This is how biologists, chemists, business people, and engineers find their place in the industry.