November 6, 2020
Benefits of hiring a location independent worker. Ramya Sriram, digital content manager at Kolabtree, the freelance platform for medical device consultants and scientists, discusses why a flexible remote team is a strong asset for medical device small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The United States is already the largest medical device market in the world and it is expected to grow to $208 billion by 2023, according to Select USA. The industry employs around two million people, who are working hard to innovate in a competitive market.
In such a competitive industry, medical device manufacturers are under immense pressure to innovate and bring new products to the market. With more than 80 percent of medical device companies consisting of 50 people or less, small businesses must find ways to compete with larger companies, while working with much tighter budgets.
Research and development fuel the delivery of new products that drive patient care. Unfortunately, innovation is expensive and, with many small businesses having little to no revenue, starting out can be challenging. To deliver new technology to the market, MedTech SMEs must look for cost-effective, profitable ways to innovate against the backdrop of a global pandemic.
R&D is not the only hurdle — bringing a medical device to market requires far more than just an innovative idea. Businesses must contend with strict regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure new products are safe and effective. There are additional considerations for companies that plan to sell in Europe, which is due to introduce the new, and more stringent, EU Medical Device Regulations (MDR) in 2021. Achieving approval requires an understanding of the minute details of the regulatory process, and any mistakes can cost both time and money.
Working in partnership with other organizations or individuals can help small businesses greatly. Where a company does not have in-house resources, for example, a regulatory team, they can reach out to other organizations, trade bodies or freelancers and team up to get the best results. A MedTech SME could benefit from working with an experienced medical writer, who can layout the clinical research findings and prepare documentation. However, there has historically been a reluctance to onboard remote workers, partly because the industry is so risk-averse.
Remote collaboration is the future
During the coronavirus pandemic, small and large medical device businesses have had to adapt to working remotely and establish infrastructure and processes to match. April 2020 saw 75 million Americans working from home, forcing companies to establish virtual working models.
Though in many cases home working was not a choice, after several months of the new normal, MedTech companies are starting to realize the benefits, as well as understand and minimize the risk. For example, home working encourages independence, builds problem-solving and discourages micromanagement. Employees are empowered to take charge of their own time, which can improve staff satisfaction and productivity.
Companies have also heavily invested in IT and security software, to enable secure collaboration. The pandemic has kickstarted a change in mindset about the necessity of offices. It is now culturally, technologically, and socially easier for companies to collaborate remotely.
Remote working for MedTech innovation
Onboarding remote workers can help address many of the challenges that US MedTech SMEs are facing. The key stages that stall new product introductions is research and development, design and prototyping, and regulatory approval, all of which require people with highly specialized skill sets. Recruiting remote workers significantly expands the talent pool for small businesses, who would previously only have hired from their geographic area. There is now, literally, a world of opportunity — businesses can recruit for the exact skills they need, regardless of location and time zone. SMEs can easily access someone with relevant qualifications, expertise, and previous experience.
Employing a remote freelancer has become a popular option for companies working on projects where hiring a full-time employee is not practical. The inherent flexibility means that SMEs can work to a fixed cost, as well as save on recruitment costs. Gig economy platforms help companies to easily access specialist skill sets and make it easy for freelancers to bid on projects they are suitable for. Medical device companies can also access reassurance that IP and confidentiality are protected, through non-disclosure agreements, confidentiality clauses, and other documentation.
The shift towards remote working has made it easier for MedTech employees to onboard workers remotely. Collaborating with freelancers can be a powerful way for SMEs to get their products off the ground, and drive the growth we expect to see in the industry by 2023.