How Intellectual Property Impacts Healthcare Development and Innovation

By Rea Steinbach, HTD Health

The healthcare industry is growing to be one of the most impactful markets of the 21st century. The COVID-19 pandemic skyrocketed investments into transformative medical technology and as the world begins to recover, more innovation will be expected of the healthcare world to help curb future pandemics.

When it comes to innovation in the healthcare development sector, intellectual property plays a vital role in how new technologies and devices emerge in the industry. Here’s how intellectual property laws play a role in healthcare development and why it’s important to utilize them.

How Does Intellectual Property in the Healthcare Industry?

During healthcare development projects, new innovations are subject to intellectual property law. Everything from advances in pharmaceuticals to healthcare software development is subject to these regulations. Intellectual property laws protect everything from patents on new technology to trademarked slogans and programs. For example, a friend might give you life advice over coffee, but Life Advice proper is the trademarked program of Met Life’s employee healthcare information service.

Patents play the most vital role in healthcare development. If an emerging technology, healthcare app, or method is new and innovative for the healthcare industry, a patent places exclusive rights on that contribution for a set period of time. If the development is a brand new technology then the patent is valid for 20 years. If the contribution is more of an innovative step in the progress of medical technology, then the patent is valid for 7 years.

The Importance of Intellectual Property

With over 750,000 companies involved in the healthcare industry as of 2020, innovators contributing to significant developments in care need to protect their work. Intellectual property laws support innovation by ensuring researchers have ample time to work on their projects. Given that these endeavors often result in advancements in medical care, these works are directly impacting future lives. Therefore, it’s important to avoid races to see who can finish a new technology first at the risk of something not working as intended.

 Furthermore, it’s a risky and costly business to conduct research for new medical innovations. As an example, for every 5,000 molecules developed in a lab during drug research, only one passes all necessary testing and receives regulatory approval. The best way to ensure effective and transformative inventions continue to propel the world of healthcare forward, intellectual property laws must continue to protect the researchers working on the next life-saving technology.

A Lasting Impact on Healthcare

Patent laws and intellectual property protections will have a lasting impact on healthcare development. By ensuring new technologies are given ample space and resources to perfect new forms of treatment and care, more people will receive life-saving care.

Protecting new developments with intellectual property laws ensures a better final product when testing and regulations are through. WIth this process in place, the already insurmountable growth seen in the healthcare industry will continue to grow and shape our future for decades to come.


Rea Steinbach, HTD Health