Trends and Figures: Healthcare: big business for the liquid gas sector

It is estimated that healthcare accounts for around 10% of GDP of most developed nations and in 2003 it was estimated that it had consumed around 25% of the GDP of the US. Both the North American and Western European markets are believed to dominate the sector worldwide, accounting for respectively 34.7% and 34.3% of it. Furthermore, because of constant technical improvements, an ageing population and increasing demands, the scope for growth seems endless… Applications using liquid gas (gas chromatography, blood gas analysis and other static or portable medical products) are rife in the sector which represents big business for the industrial gas community. As an example, Air Liquide - probably the biggest player in the field with a 23.6% share of the industry - has recently decided to reinforce its operations in healthcare in Western Europe and the US. Linde follows closely behind with a 15.8% share and has also grown considerably in recent years, in particular through the acquisition of BOC (7.7%), leading them to 23.5% of the market. Other companies also have an important share; Praxair has 15% and fellow US firm Air Products 11%. Efforts to improve the overall level of facilities and services in the healthcare industry, coupled with the rapid technological advances in the gas industry, many of which more specifically target desired improvements in the healthcare sector, could offer to medical gas companies major opportunities in the future.