Topic: What’s Next in Healthcare Products as a Result of COVID?
The COVID-19 crisis has uncovered gaps in the availability of current medical products. Most all areas across the technology landscape have stepped forward and must continue to explore ways to close those gaps.
The most glaring issue uncovered during the early stage of the pandemic was that the U.S. completely depended on supply chains outside the country. In ordinary times, such a situation may not be an issue as long as demand and supply are aligned globally. However, when stressed, or over-stressed, as the global supply chain was by the rapid escalation of the virus, the U.S. was in a distinct disadvantage to prioritize for its own crucial medical needs.
Such was the case for PPE where, in the early days, it was incredibly difficult to secure product. However, it went beyond simple PPE to include the well-known situations related to ventilators, blood oxygen sensors, thermometers, etc.
To solve the shortage problem, many avenues were tried that led to unreliable sourcing, unacceptable delivery times, and price gouging. To some degree, the U.S. was able to scale up its manufacturing, ramping it up in crisis mode. Now, U.S. companies realize that having some manufacturing capability in the U.S. for pandemic-related consumables and devices is of critical importance and will be building out the needed infrastructure. This is akin to the stockpiling of strategic reserves, as we do with crucial commodities such as oil.
In addition, the demand for supplemental products became apparent in both healthcare and home settings. One example is the need for simple breathing-assistance technology (see figure). In the U.S., it’s uncommon for hospitals to buy the latest and greatest, most feature-rich forms of ventilators. Under normal conditions, even though such technology may be overkill, having a relatively small need for sophisticated ventilators makes sense.
Topic Discussed: What’s Next in Healthcare Products as a Result of COVID?