The medical device sector, a part of the pharmaceutical industry, is one of the few businesses that has been relatively less impacted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, as the disease spreads, the demand for accurate diagnostic measures, medical devices (including handled scanners, and personal protective equipment (PPE)), and effective preventive and treatment solutions for COVID-19, is growing at a rapid pace. In this context, it is worth mentioning that the sales of handheld ultrasound / x-ray scanners and infrared thermometers have increased manifold, in compliance to social distancing guidelines. In fact, the medical device industry is presently overwhelmed with the need to develop and supply various types of products to cater to the ongoing COVID-19 testing initiatives, across the world. As more cases of the disease are identified, restrictions imposed on both national and international movement of goods are anticipated to impact the import / export of medical devices, as well. In order to address this problem, it is very important for MedTech manufacturers to be flexible in their operations, leveraging all applicable exemptions, and optimizing internal processes by fulfilling emerging needs through innovation. Further, in general, any strategy conceived / deployed in this crisis must be communicated in an effective manner, across both public and private stakeholders in the industry.
Based on our assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical device service providers across the world, are likely to witness / have witnessed the following developments:
- A general unwillingness on the part of patients to enroll in new clinical trials, owing to the growing anxiety over the current situation.
- Immediate decline in medical device-related clinical research activity, owing to reallocation of medical personnel and resources to COVID-19 focused objectives.
- The abovementioned development is anticipated to result in a corresponding decrease in demand for clinical research-related services for medical devices.
- Disruptions in the medical device supply chain.
- Global shortage of medical devices, including PPE, owing to unprecedented demand brought about by the pandemic.
- Reallocation of resources and restructuring of business priorities, within medical device-focused companies, in order to ensure consistent supply of medical equipment to support the diagnosis and treatment of patients infected by the novel coronavirus.
- Increased regulatory scrutiny for all ongoing activities within the medical device industry.
Although the revenue generation potential of stakeholders in this industry is expected to be adversely impacted in the short term, the already high and consistently increasing demand for medical equipment is likely to offer lucrative business opportunity in the coming months. In order to leverage this situation, device developers and manufacturers, are already developing and implementing necessary operational changes to maximize output, while ensuring compliance to the emergency regulations that are in place. Once appropriate risk management strategies are defined and implemented and the world begins to gradually exit the precautionary lockdown (possibly after the approval and large-scale distribution of a vaccine), the businesses of medical device service providers are likely to grow, with an evident spike in opportunity owing to the pandemic.