By: Ofir Paldi, CEO of Shamaym
The pandemic has essentially turned the healthcare industry on its head. The pressure that doctors, nurses, and the entire medical industry faced since the onset of COVID-19 in the US has been enormous. Doctors have had to find new ways to treat patients, and in some cases, had to completely change their business model to fit a remote or hybrid approach to patient care, and medical device companies had to keep up with a growing demand for supplies.
The Healthcare Industry Scrambled to Create a New Model
According to McKinsey, telehealth surged in April 2020 and increased 78 times compared to February 2020, prior to the pandemic. To accommodate this sudden shift, new regulations had to be put in place to cover telehealth expenses; doctors and patients alike wondered if telehealth would be effective; and the healthcare industry was left scrambling to create a remote model and adopt the technologies necessary to accommodate it.
Pressure to Understand How to Treat COVID-19
Additionally, in the beginning of the pandemic, healthcare workers were just learning about COVID-19 and how to best treat it. It was a new virus that still required enormous research, and clinical staff was tasked with treating it “on the fly”. According to Dr. Ashley Coleman, a family physician who is a hospitalist, a major challenge was “sort of the sense of not really having much to offer therapeutic-wise. The best analogy I think we’ve heard that’s been used to describe this pandemic is that we’re flying the plane as we build it. That we’re sort of learning as we go. The virus is new, the disease is new.”
Demand on Medical Device Companies
Behind the frontline workers on the ground treating patients were the medical device companies tasked with supplying the healthcare professionals with the equipment needed to treat patients. Increased demand for existing and new products put a major strain on medical device teams to keep up with the growing needs of the market on a national and international level.
Specifically during the onset of COVID-19 needs shifted – hospitals began focusing on COVID-19 patients and postponed elective procedures so the demand for certain types of equipment shifted and then shifted back again once elective procedures restarted. The unexpected ebbs and flows that the industry put on medtech, required enormous flexibility that sometimes necessitated them to turn to partnerships or other creative measures to supplement capacity.
A McKinsey report notes “building and stress-testing several scenarios for procedures and product demand will be critical for identifying areas of risk and opportunity and navigating through the crisis. The planning and actions taken in the short term can have significant implications, not only for medtech’s continued resilience in the crisis, but in shaping its longer-term recovery for what is likely a significantly different future for healthcare and the medtech industry.”
And this demand for medical devices just keeps on growing. According to Reports and Data, the medical adhesives market is predicted to increase to $14.8B by 2028. This increase is attributed to the need for respiratory protective devices, face masks, isolation gowns, and surgical drapes. In fact, suppliers like Henkel, 3M, and H.B. Fuller Company are focusing on further developing high-quality adhesives for the medical industry.
How Can Medical Device Teams Keep up With Pressures?
As the pressure to develop, manufacture, and deliver medical devices to hospitals and medical offices heightens, medical device companies are creating new procedures to improve their own internal processes. A main challenge that medical device companies face is that even small operational changes require a lengthy process and multiple sign offs both internally and externally to the company. This can be challenging in a pandemic environment, which demands a high level of adaptability.
Additionally, all areas of the company require agility, including: product development, engineering changes, delivery, and customer support. So how do medical device teams develop the equipment needed faster and accelerate approval and delivery times?
Working Together As a Team Accelerates Performance Goals
According to a Stanford study, cues of working as a team naturally ignites individual motivation to achieve and stay focused longer on challenging tasks. Individuals who enjoyed working on the team were highly engrossed in the project and performed better. Medical device companies have begun adopting a continuous learning approach throughout the entire corporation so that teams collaborate more effectively and are constantly learning from each other. The goal of this approach is to drive high-level performance throughout the entire team.
The implementation of continuous learning includes debriefing sessions, where employees discuss lessons learned and how to improve processes so that team members can learn from each other how to create more effective approaches and avoid repeating the same mistakes. Debriefing or discussing how to handle a situation post facto also provides an opportunity for the team to break down big issues into small corrective actions, so that challenges no longer feel insurmountable. The process provides the structure to tackle the most important issues, break them down, and define future actions, with little added effort on the managers’ part.
Technology Takes Continuous Learning to the Next Level
To incorporate the continuous learning approach, medical device companies are turning to AI-powered, real-time learning platforms that prompt team members to input their lessons and share those insights with team members working on similar initiatives. The technology intuitively serves these lessons to the right person exactly at the moment of need in order to increase productivity. The use of real-time learning platforms have resulted in faster delivery times, project milestones were accomplished at a quicker pace, and second visits for field support issues were minimized.
How the Healthcare Industry Benefits
Medical device companies are the fuel behind the healthcare industry, providing hospitals with the equipment they need to do their job. With increased pressure to provide more equipment at a faster pace, medical device teams’ improved efficiency enables the medical industry to get the supplies they need, when they need it. COVID-19 has presented the unexpected and brought major transitions to everyone in the industry. The agility and adaptability that companies can incorporate in order to address each challenge is the difference between success and failure to meet the moment of need.