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 code Company 12-month price change Price Jul 12 (intraday) Focus Market Cap
RSH RESPIRI 1.82051282051 0.11 Asthma 52.1M
PNV POLYNOVO 1.33333333333 0.49 Wounds and burns 332.3M
JHL JAYEX HEALTHCARE 1.32 0.058 Health data 8.6M
OSL ONCOSIL MEDICAL 1.2 0.22 Pancreatic cancer implant 131.1M
PCK PAINCHEK 0.857142857143 0.052 Pain management 44.4M
GMV G MEDICAL INNHOL 0.607142857143 0.225 Diagnostics 74.7M
VHT VOLPARA HEALTH T 0.567010309278 0.76 Breast cancer diagnostic 136.1M
PME PRO MEDICUS 0.512428298279 7.91 Medical imaging 816.6M
MDR MEDADVISOR 0.466666666667 0.044 Smart phone medical scripts 59.3M
MGZ MEDIGARD 0.454545454545 0.016 Safety devices, syringes 2.0M
NAN NANOSONICS 0.31875 3.165 Ultrasound tech 934.0M
COH COCHLEAR 0.305861165684 199.405 Bionic ear 11.3B
PIQ PROTEOMICS INTER 0.30303030303 0.215 Kidney disease test 16.0M
M7T MACH7 TECH 0.294117647059 0.22 Medical data imaging 30.3M
GTG GENETIC TECH 0.25 0.01 Breast cancer predictive test 24.4M
CMP COMPUMEDICS 0.21568627451 0.62 Sleep disorders 109.0M
CYC CYCLOPHARM 0.159763313609 0.98 Imaging 67.4M
MVP MEDICAL DEV 0.137450199203 5.71 Oxygen regulators 338.5M
NHL NOVITA 0.0625 0.034 Attention deficit disorder tech 12.2M
1ST 1ST GROUP 0.0606060606061 0.035 GP bookings 7.2M
RHT RESONANCE HEALTH 0 0.025 Liver iron testing 9.3M
ALT ANALYTICA 0 0.005 Incontinence treatment 16.7M
NUH NUHEARA -0.020618556701 0.095 Wearables 82.9M
OVN OVENTUS MEDICAL -0.0769230769231 0.3 Snoring and sleep apnoea 32.8M
AVH AVITA MEDICAL -0.0845070422535 0.065 Burns 83.0M
GSS GENETIC SIGNATUR -0.139534883721 0.37 Molecular diagnostics 38.5M
FTT FACTOR THERAPEUT -0.144927536232 0.059 Wound care 47.6M
ADR ADHERIUM -0.153846153846 0.11 Medication prompting 19.2M
ALC ALCIDION GROUP -0.202898550725 0.055 Healthcare analytics 44.3M
RNO RHINOMED -0.216216216216 0.145 Snoring and sleep apnoea 17.1M
AZV AZURE HEALTHCARE -0.225 0.062 Clinical workflow tech 14.4M
NTI NEUROTECH INT -0.244444444444 0.17 Autism treatment 18.5M
ELX ELLEX MEDICAL -0.274193548387 0.675 Medical lasers 96.2M
LSH LIFESPOT HEALTH -0.28125 0.115 Skin cancer detection 8.2M
GLH GLOBAL HEALTH -0.307692307692 0.225 Connected health records 7.5M
SOM SOMNOMED -0.320203303685 2.14 Snoring and sleep apnoea 136.9M
AMT ALLEGRA ORTHO -0.323529411765 0.115 Surgical equipment 11.4M
UBI UNIVERSAL -0.369047619048 0.265 Universal biosensors 46.0M
OIL OPTISCAN -0.39175257732 0.059 Diagnostic tests 25.1M
MX1 MICRO-X -0.404255319149 0.28 Mobile x-ray systems 39.7M
IPD IMPEDIMED -0.412162162162 0.435 Impedance measuring device 157.3M
BRC BRAIN RESOURCE -0.414285714286 0.041 Cognitive testing 20.7M
MEB MEDIBIO -0.5 0.17 Mental health and wellness 28.4M
LBT LBT INNOVATIONS -0.554716981132 0.118 Diagnostics 22.1M
RAP RESAPP HEALTH -0.636363636364 0.12 Respiratory diseases 75.8M
OSP OSPREY MEDIC -0.650602409639 0.145 Angiography tech 52.6M
IBX IMAGION BIO -0.660606060606 0.056 Diagnostics 12.2M
DVL DORSAVI -0.661764705882 0.115 Wearables 19.3M
ONE ONEVIEW -0.69696969697 1.5 Health system tools 100.3M
RVA REVA MEDICAL -0.739644970414 0.22 Xray visible bioscaffolds 91.2M
AXP AIRXPANDERS -0.87323943662 0.09 Tissue expander 25.6M