Securities.io is not an investment adviser, and this does not constitute investment advice, financial advice, or trading advice. Securities.io does not recommend that any security should be bought, sold, or held by you. Conduct your own due diligence and consult a financial adviser before making any investment decisions.
A New Digital Health Revolution
The decreasing cost and omnipresence of IT technologies have made them an integral part of our healthcare system, including digital patient files, telemedicine, AI And digital biotechs, and robotics surgery.
Another flourishing sector is virtual reality in healthcare. This can be used in multiple ways:
- Doctors can learn with interactive models, and surgeons can practice on virtual patients for training purposes.
- For medical purposes, from reducing stress and pain to treating mental problems or even treating lazy eye syndrome.
- To prepare surgery and design optimal prosthesis.
They are usually classified into the following categories.
- Augmented Reality (AR): it provides an overlay of digital information over the real-world view, helping, for example, a surgeon to visualize the proper position of a hip implant.
- Virtual Reality (VR): replaces the real vision with a completely virtual environment, similar to how VR gaming functions.
Since 2015, no less than 39 AR & VR solutions have been approved by the FDA, with most of them as recently as 2020 or later.
This market is currently just $400M but should grow to represent $6.9B by 2030, or a 42.4% CAGR.
Most of the companies active in this sector are privately held startups. But a few larger companies are on an acquisition spree, and others have been listed publicly, so investors can now enter this promising segment.
Best AR & VR stocks
Zimmer is a serial acquirer of biomedical technologies, focusing on surgery and robotics/IT/AR/VR. Zimmer Biomet Holdings acquired “ORTHOsoft, A Leader in Computer Assisted Orthopaedic Surgery” and signed in 2022 an exclusive co-marketing agreement for HipInsight™ Mixed Reality System with Surgical Planning Associates.
Zimmer's AR/VR offer is merged into the OptiVu Mixed Reality solution and in the wider ZBEdge Dynamic Intelligence, including robotics surgery, smart implants, and mymobility care management platform.
In Q1 2023, the company grew revenues by 13.2%, reaching $1.8B. Most of the company revenues come from the USA, with the knee segment the largest and also the one growing the quickest (18.1% year-to-year).
The largest tailwind for Zimmer is the aging of the population, increasing the total market, while orthopedics surgeons are increasingly open to using advanced technology like AR/VR and robotics to perform their tasks.
Overall, it is a well-established company in the sector with an aggressive push for fully integrating its AR/VR solutions into surgeons' daily work.
It is a Swiss company that holds no less than 5 out of 39 FDA-approved AR/VR technologies. It is focused on orthopedics and spine surgery. For now, most of its revenues are from “traditional” orthopedics products, like implants and surgery tools and assistance.
Still, Medacta has developed an AR offer for surgery, NextAR, usable for knee, hips, shoulder, and spine surgeries. It provides the surgeons with an AR overlay in glasses, detailing every step of the planned surgery.
The company is equally very active in the digital space, with a dedicated app, Medacta TV, for medical education and other digital offers in the M.O.R.E. (Medacta Orthopaedic Research and Education) program.
Medacta is investing in growth, with $65M in 2022 of investment, notably $44.9M in inventory (surgical implant and instrument) and $4.8M in land to expand its factories.
The company has seen growing revenues and EBITDA in 2022, with revenues growing 11% CAGR since 2019. It even distributes a small dividend. It also generated $8.4M in free cash flow in 2022, up from $2M in 2021. Most of its revenues are from Europe (43%) and North America (31%)
Medacta is building a strong portfolio of approved AR/VR applications for its NextAR system, which should synergize well with its other educative material for surgeons. Especially considering its pre-existing relationship with surgeons for its implants and other surgical products.
This is a stock for investors looking at a quickly growing medical device company becoming a leader in AR and digital information & training for orthopedics surgeries.
NuVasive is a company specializing in spine surgery. It is developing a full training program for surgeons in partnership with VR surgery developer PrecisionOS, using its X360 system.
Nuvasive announced on February 2023 that it is going to merge with Globus Medical (GMED). Globus also has its own VR solution, with the Exclesius GPS Navigation Robot and the Excelsius 3D imaging system.
The resulting merged company will look to combine NuVasive's distribution network with Globus' manufacturing capabilities and improve surgeons' education solutions. They also have a lot of complementary products, making the newly combined offer to spine surgeons more extensive.
Investors in NuVasive (and/or Globus) will own a leader in spine and hip surgeries, with exposure to AR/VR and robotic surgery and patient monitoring systems. The merger should create synergies and help the plan expand into new areas, like sports medicine, surgery for the extremities, and regenerative biologics.
Augmedix is a Healthcare AI company initially focused on automated documentation and healthcare data. “Augmedix's proprietary platform uses automatic speech recognition, natural language processing, and clinical datasets to capture the ambient visit conversation and generate a structured medical note. The structured medical note data is then used to deliver additional data services.”
The company recently expanded into AR surgery with the XVision solution. The idea is to offer the surgeon a virtual “X-ray vision” through the patient skin. The system has already been used to treat 3,000 patients and has recently been approved for use in spine surgeries.
Augmedix AI's initial offering has been growing quickly, with a 38% increase in revenues year-to-year and 42% year-to-year growth in gross profit. The company plans to reach cash flow break-even in Q4 2024 and has received enough cash from a recent $12M financing to reach that point.
Augmedix is as much a bet on digital patient files, AI-assisted note-taking, and patient file filling as AR-assisted surgery. So, investors in the company will want to keep an eye on the adoption of Augmedix notes not slowing down and cash flow turning positive in the expected time frame.