The medical technology industry have played a pivotal role in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it will be central to exiting lockdown and finding a ‘new normal’.
None of us has ever seen anything like it: the world has been dealing with a pandemic that has reconfigured out health systems, closed schools, grounded flights and changed our lives. As governments and citizens look to ease out of ‘lockdown’ while reducing the risk of a second wave of infections, we are all asking ourselves what this new world will look like.
First, it is worth recapping what happened so far. Medical technologies have been front and centre since the new coronavirus emerged: Diagnostic testing has helped experts understand the spread of the disease, personal protective equipment (PPE) has reduced the risks for frontline health workers, and intensive care facilities (including ventilators) have saved the lives of many people.
Even for me, who has been working in the industry for years and I know how innovative and responsible the medtech sector is, it has been stunning to see the commitment and the incredible efforts of the medtech community to fight the pandemic providing to patients, healthcare professionals and health systems.
Take testing, for example. Industry developed new, high-quality tests in never-seen speed, and ramped up production, expanding capacity to test for the virus. Now the same happens with tests that tell us about the immunity response of the population. Or look at ventilator production – which threatened to be a bottleneck as the scale of the crisis was dawning on us all in March. Medtech companies worked to pool their expertise and dramatically scale up manufacturing of vital hardware.
Now, when speaking with industry leaders, their focus is on how they can support the next phase of the crisis. As political leaders unveil their ‘deconfinement plans’, it is clear that medical technologies will once again be called upon to serve.
- Companies are working around the clock to develop and produce quality COVID-19 tests in needed high quantities.
- The need for medical masks, gloves and gowns will remain high and medical grade PPE is being manufactured at an unprecedented scale and flown into where it is needed most.
- Greater focus is put on healthcare especially for those who have conditions other than COVID-19.
While it may have felt like normal life has been suspended since March, people have still developed new conditions while those living with chronic diseases cannot press ‘pause’ on their medical needs. Surgery and treatment for people suffering from cancer or progressing cardiological conditions, renal dialysis for kidney failure patients, glucose management for people living with diabetes, hip replacements for those living with arthritis – these needs have not changed. Indeed, many areas of care have built up significant backlogs while clinics were closed.
On the other side, we have also seen an acceleration in uptake of telemedicine and digital health tools. Remote care, and enhanced selfcare, have been crucial throughout the crisis. Some of these arrangements will remain, and hopefully be expanded and further improved upon when they provide real value to patients and make services more efficient.
One thing’s for sure. We cannot simply flicking a switch and returning to life as it was before COVID-19. The new world will require all the ingenuity and flexibility from all of us, and medical technology companies are up and ready to play their part.
Visit our COVID-19 Hub to read more about the medtech industry’s response to the pandemic