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How Much Do Australian Healthcare Providers Rely on Australian Made Healthcare Equipment?

Photo: How Much Do Australian Healthcare Providers Rely on Australian Made Healthcare E....
When you use a specialist piece of healthcare technology, machinery or equipment, you may not give a second thought to where it was made. However, what a lot of people in the healthcare industry don't realise is that Australia actually has a pretty strong medical equipment production industry, and more of those tools and devices than you might think have probably been made on Aussie soil!

The Equipment We Import

Of course, we do import a lot of medical equipment as well, with our main exporters being the USA, Japan and the EU. American data on exports to Australia in this sector in 2016 showed that we imported around USD $4.1 million in American made medical equipment, a figure that is estimated to rise to close to USD $4.3 million this year. Manufacturers in the US value the Australian market because of our high standards in healthcare, and the fact that our ageing population creates more demand for the use of specialist equipment. Australia is the 9th biggest importer of this kind of equipment from America, and this relationship is sweetened by the existence of a very strong trade agreement between Australia and the US.
However, the demands of our healthcare industry are the very same things that contribute to our own homegrown industry, which features big name ASX 200 companies, thriving. It is also worth noting that as well as importing from countries like the US, we have a good export relationship with them too – we exported USD $1.8 million in medical equipment to America last year.

The Key Players in the Aussie Healthcare Equipment Manufacturing Industry

According to analysts IBIS World, there are close to 1,800 businesses operating in the healthcare equipment manufacturing industry in Australia at present, but there are a few big names that hold the lion's share of the market – Abbott, Baxter Healthcare, Cochlear, and ResMed. ResMed and Cochlear in particular have shown some impressive growth in the last five years, as their niche, specialised products have grown in demand. Unlike some other manufacturing sectors, the medical manufacturing industry hasn't suffered from the rising cost of production or competition from emerging economies, partly because of the very specialised nature of the technology.

These companies are major employers, with over 10,000 people working in healthcare equipment manufacturing in Australia in 2017. These jobs are not only important to the economy, but also demonstrate the specialist capabilities in areas like engineering and technology that Australian graduates are developing.

The Current Importance of The Industry in Australia

Manufacturing in general is key to Australia’s current economic strategies, with the government looking to drive exports while the AUD is comparatively weak, and of course promote the use of Australian made products in order to boost the economy. The medical equipment manufacturing industry is a great example of a thriving manufacturing industry, with a revenue of AUD $3 billion, and annual growth of 1.3% between the years of 2012 and 2017. The market is expected to continue showing healthy growth in the next five year period too, and is an appealing area for investors.

As you can see, our healthcare industry is supported by a well performing equipment manufacturing industry, and Australian made medical technology is also having a positive impact on our economy.

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