Global spending on medical technology — or medtech — will grow from $US400 billion today to $US522 billion by 2022 as the health industry goes increasingly high-tech.

There are more than 50 ASX-listed stocks that are going after a slice of the medtech market — which includes machines that simplify the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.

That includes imaging instruments, dialysis devices, wearables and what Monty Python famously called “machines that go ping”.

Another $US1 billion will be spent on cloud-based patient management software, databases and technology that connects medical devices, reports researcher Frost & Sullivan.

Globally, hospital and health staff will “lower their dependence on manual monitoring” in the coming five years, say the analysts, resulting in new opportunities for Artificial Intelligence-based or automated medical tech.

>> Scroll down for a list of ASX medtechs and their 12-month performance

On the local bourse, medtech companies generally come in four varieties: wearables and apps, surgical and medical tools, in-body technology – including 3D printed parts and bioscaffolds – and imaging and diagnostic technology.

Despite the ever-growing health market and a trend to high-tech “precision medicine” many of the ASX medtech stocks have lost ground over the past 12 months, however.

Of the 53 medtech stocks we’ve listed below, only 20 have increased over the past year.

Among these, diagnostic tools and wearables have seen some standout performances.

For example, asthma tech business Respiri (ASX:RSH) is up 180 per cent for the year with its alternative to the “peak-flow” monitor, while pain monitor app Painchek (ASX:PCK) is up 85 per cent.

Even bionic ear juggernaut Cochlear (ASX:COH) is up about 30 per cent for the year.

There are a few key questions investors should ask when considering any device or technology-focused health stock, says Canary Capital analyst Martin Duriska.

These include the time to market for the product, whether it has relevant approvals such as TGA clearance,  how the product will be sold and whether management has a track record of building businesses and signing up customers.

“Is the distribution in ‘lesser’ countries, or have they got a distribution channel in the EU or USA?,” Mr Duriska asks.

“Has management had any success in the past, be it in similar devices, or similar health conditions?

“Having a ‘veteran’ of the industry on board is a huge plus as it may open big doors.” 

Biotech Daily editor David Langsam highlights sales credentials as an important part of medtech success.

He suggests reviewing whether companies are doing their own marketing or using a third party to sell their goods to clinicians and hospitals.

More than 25 of the businesses in the Biotech Daily BD-40 index of top biotechs are in the device or diagnostics game. Mr Langsam says overall, the space can offer faster wins than drug developers – but at smaller scale.

“The thing about devices and diagnostics is that they are easier to get approved,” Mr Langsam says. “So there is often a smaller return, because there’s a lower risk-reward factor.

“You don’t get the 50-100 per cent return to can get on the drugs.” 

The top medtechs over 12 months

Some of the brightest sparks in the ASX medtech space this year have hit well above the 100 per cent gains mark. Here are a few of the businesses at the top of the class over the past year:

Polynovo (ASX:PNV) — up 141 per cent, share price 49.5c 

Polynovo’s product suite includes novel wound dressing as well as in-development orthopaedics and hernia repair treatments.

In April, it also announced a development program for a breast reconstruction device. In the first half of 2018, revenue was up 30 per cent to $2.7 million. But so was were the losses, which came in at $3.2 million – 64% higher than the previous year.

• Respiri (ASX:RSH) — up 180 per cent, share price 11c

Respiri’s devices measure wheezes, and aim to replace the old and tricky-to-use “peak flow” meter for asthma tracking. In May, it told investors it was advancing protocols for real world studies of its technology.

The business generated $2000 in customer receipts in the nine months to March, and had $879,00 in cash at the end of March.

Painchek (ASX:PCK) — up 100 per cent, share price 5.2c 

The Painchek app — which measures pain by facial expressions — is now being tested to manage patients with early stage dementia. In mid-June the business confirmed it was extending a pilot testing program nationally in partnership with Dementia Support Australia. As of the March quarter it was not generating revenue, but burned $664,000 for the quarter.

Volpara (ASX:VHT) — up 55 per cent, share price 76c  

Volpara is a breast cancer diagnostics play, with enterprise software and density tests added on after mammograms have taken place for quicker and more accurate cancer detection.

Its 2018 annual report put 2018 revenue at $2.8 million, up 53 per cent from last year’s $1.8 million.

Oncosil (ASX:OSL) UP 129 per cent, share price 22c 

Oncosil is developing an implant device to be used in the treatment of pancreatic tumours. It raised $12.7 million from an institutional placement earlier this year. It’s currently conducting two patient studies for its implantable radiotherapy device.

This table shows the 12-month price change of ASX-listed companies in the medtech space:

Swipe or scroll to reveal the full table. Click headings to sort

ASX codeCompany12-month price changePrice Jul 12 (intraday)FocusMarket Cap
PNVPOLYNOVO1.333333333330.49Wounds and burns332.3M
JHLJAYEX HEALTHCARE1.320.058Health data8.6M
OSLONCOSIL MEDICAL1.20.22Pancreatic cancer implant131.1M
PCKPAINCHEK0.8571428571430.052Pain management44.4M
GMVG MEDICAL INNHOL0.6071428571430.225Diagnostics74.7M
VHTVOLPARA HEALTH T0.5670103092780.76Breast cancer diagnostic136.1M
PMEPRO MEDICUS0.5124282982797.91Medical imaging816.6M
MDRMEDADVISOR0.4666666666670.044Smart phone medical scripts59.3M
MGZMEDIGARD0.4545454545450.016Safety devices, syringes2.0M
NANNANOSONICS0.318753.165Ultrasound tech934.0M
COHCOCHLEAR0.305861165684199.405Bionic ear11.3B
PIQPROTEOMICS INTER0.303030303030.215Kidney disease test16.0M
M7TMACH7 TECH0.2941176470590.22Medical data imaging30.3M
GTGGENETIC TECH0.250.01Breast cancer predictive test24.4M
CMPCOMPUMEDICS0.215686274510.62Sleep disorders109.0M
MVPMEDICAL DEV0.1374501992035.71Oxygen regulators338.5M
NHLNOVITA0.06250.034Attention deficit disorder tech12.2M
1ST1ST GROUP0.06060606060610.035GP bookings7.2M
RHTRESONANCE HEALTH00.025Liver iron testing9.3M
ALTANALYTICA00.005Incontinence treatment16.7M
OVNOVENTUS MEDICAL-0.07692307692310.3Snoring and sleep apnoea32.8M
AVHAVITA MEDICAL-0.08450704225350.065Burns83.0M
GSSGENETIC SIGNATUR-0.1395348837210.37Molecular diagnostics38.5M
FTTFACTOR THERAPEUT-0.1449275362320.059Wound care47.6M
ADRADHERIUM-0.1538461538460.11Medication prompting19.2M
ALCALCIDION GROUP-0.2028985507250.055Healthcare analytics44.3M
RNORHINOMED-0.2162162162160.145Snoring and sleep apnoea17.1M
AZVAZURE HEALTHCARE-0.2250.062Clinical workflow tech14.4M
NTINEUROTECH INT-0.2444444444440.17Autism treatment18.5M
ELXELLEX MEDICAL-0.2741935483870.675Medical lasers96.2M
LSHLIFESPOT HEALTH-0.281250.115Skin cancer detection8.2M
GLHGLOBAL HEALTH-0.3076923076920.225Connected health records7.5M
SOMSOMNOMED-0.3202033036852.14Snoring and sleep apnoea136.9M
AMTALLEGRA ORTHO-0.3235294117650.115Surgical equipment11.4M
UBIUNIVERSAL-0.3690476190480.265Universal biosensors46.0M
OILOPTISCAN-0.391752577320.059Diagnostic tests25.1M
MX1MICRO-X-0.4042553191490.28Mobile x-ray systems39.7M
IPDIMPEDIMED-0.4121621621620.435Impedance measuring device157.3M
BRCBRAIN RESOURCE-0.4142857142860.041Cognitive testing20.7M
MEBMEDIBIO-0.50.17Mental health and wellness28.4M
LBTLBT INNOVATIONS-0.5547169811320.118Diagnostics22.1M
RAPRESAPP HEALTH-0.6363636363640.12Respiratory diseases75.8M
OSPOSPREY MEDIC-0.6506024096390.145Angiography tech52.6M
IBXIMAGION BIO-0.6606060606060.056Diagnostics12.2M
ONEONEVIEW-0.696969696971.5Health system tools100.3M
RVAREVA MEDICAL-0.7396449704140.22Xray visible bioscaffolds91.2M
AXPAIRXPANDERS-0.873239436620.09Tissue expander25.6M