The medical device industry finds itself at yet another crossroads. After years of disruption driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, there appears to be optimism on the horizon as the world emerges from the shadow of the Omicron variant. While firms have been able to generate revenue through the manufacturing of COVID-19 testing solutions, the demand for these products may begin to wane as infection rates dip nationally.
As another stage of the pandemic recedes, it leaves companies searching for answers to two critical challenges: staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions.
The Rippling Effects of Staffing Shortages
First and foremost, there are no medical devices without the professionals and patients that utilize them. There’s a tragic contradiction at play here; the need for medical staff spikes with each new surge of COVID-19, yet hospitals continue to operate with shortages. This has a rippling effect through the U.S. healthcare system. Less staff are available to perform a wide array procedures, which are also being canceled by patients who are sick or opt to defer until virus levels recede. This has all led to a dip in demand for medical devices of all kinds. However, recent reports indicate that revenues may expand due to pent-up demand if case numbers fall and vaccination efforts continue.
Supply Chain Pains
Second, it’s become clear that no industry is immune to the pains of supply chain disruptions. For medical device companies, this means contending with shortages of key materials and rising shipping costs. However, employers must begin to be proactive in their responses; in an increasingly global economy, supply chain pains are here to stay. As McKinsey indicates, “companies can now expect supply chain disruptions lasting a month or longer to occur every 3.7 years, and the most severe events take a major financial toll.”
One option for medical device companies is to lean into the expansion of the remote workforce. The lessons learned from the sudden shift to the virtual workplace during the height of COVID-19 can now be applied in other areas. “There are some things that will still need to be done in person,” detailed MasterControl in their, “4 Medical Device Trends Impacting Quality” report, “but many of these processes, particularly as it pertains to documentation, are actually more efficient and cost effective when done remotely.”
Checking the Pulse of the Medical Device Industry
This year may prove to be an active one for the medical device industry. While staffing and supply chain troubles are a cause for concern currently, encouraging COVID-19 numbers could change the complexion of the job market dramatically. Organizations must be ready to move quickly to meet demand if the situation changes rapidly once again. As the focus turns from testing to the pent up demand for deferred procedures, skilled talent will be needed to fill the need fast.
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