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Healthcare Industry Defined


The United Nations International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) categorizes the health care industry as the industry that involves:

1.  Hospital activities: activities of general and specialized hospitals, sanatoria, preventoria, asylums, rehabilitation centres, leprosaria, dental centres and other health institutions which have accommodation facilities. 

2.  Medical and dental practice activities: consultation and treatment activities of general physicians and medical specialists including dentists. 

3.  Other human health activities: optometry, hydrotherapy, medical massage, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody, homeopathy, chiropractice, acupuncture, etc.


In the business community, the Industry Classification Benchmark categorizes Healthcare industry into the following:

1.  Health care equipment & services, including:

(a) Health care providers: health maintenance organizations, hospitals, clinics, dentists, opticians, nursing homes, rehabilitation and retirement centers.

(b) Medical equipment: Manufacturers and distributors of medical devices such as MRI scanners, prosthetics, pacemakers, X-ray machines and other non-disposable medical devices. 

(c) Medical supplies: Manufacturers and distributors of medical supplies used by health care providers and the general public, including makers of contact lenses, eyeglass lenses, bandages and other disposable medical supplies. 

2.  Pharmaceuticals & biotechnology, including:

(a) Biotechnology: Companies engaged in research into and development of biological substances for the purposes of drug discovery and diagnostic development, and which derive the majority of their revenue from either the sale or licensing of these drugs and diagnostic tools.

(b) Pharmaceuticals: Manufacturers of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, cold remedies and birth control pills, including vaccine producers.

The Global Industry Classification Standard categorizes Healthcare industry into the following:

1.  Health care equipment & services, including:

(a) Health care equipment.

(b) Health care supplies. 

(c) Heal care distributors.

(d) Health care facilities.

(e) Managed health care.

(f) Health care technology. 

2.  Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, & Life Science, including:

(a) Biotechnology.

(b) Pharmaceuticals.

(c) Life sciences tools & services.


Based on the framework of the Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB), a comprehensive list of major sectors and subsectors of healthcare industry was published by Chyu and 40 co-authors from the global Healthcare Engineering community, in their white paper that defines Healthcare Engineering.  See table.

Medical Device Industry


A major sector of employment for Healthcare Engineers is the medical device industry.  The medical device industry produces a range of products designed to diagnose and treat patients. According to the US Department of Commerce, the key products that comprise the medical devices industry include the following:

  • Surgical appliances and supplies: artificial joints and limbs, stents, orthopedic appliances, surgical dressings, disposable surgical drapes, hydrotherapy appliances, surgical kits, rubber medical and surgical gloves, wheelchairs, etc. 

  • Surgical and medical instruments: anesthesia apparatus, orthopedic instruments, optical diagnostic apparatus, blood transfusion device, syringes, hypodermic needles, catheters, etc. 

  • Electro-medical equipment: a variety of powered devices, including pacemakers, patient-monitoring systems, MRI machines, diagnostic imaging equipment (including informatics equipment), ultrasonic scanning devices, etc. 

  • In-vitro diagnostic substances: chemical, biological or radioactive substances used for diagnostic tests performed in test tubes, Petri dishes, machines, and other diagnostic test-type devices.  

  • Irradiation apparatus: X-ray devices and other diagnostic imaging, as well as computed tomography equipment (CT). 

  • Dental equipment and supplies: equipment, instruments, and supplies used by dentists, dental hygienists, and laboratories. Specific products include dental hand instruments, plaster, drills, amalgams, cements, sterilizers, dental chairs, etc. 

  • Ophthalmic goods: eyeglass frames, lenses and related optical and magnification products. 

  • Dental laboratories: crowns, dentures, bridges and other orthodontic products. 



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