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COVID-19 Impacts MedTech Industry

Mounir Jamil

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COVID-19 Impacts TechMed Industry

Inside Telecom takes a look into some of the possible effects of the Covid-19 crisis mainly on the MedTech industry, and the implications of it impact for years to come. Make no mistake, that the Covid-19 pandemic is definitely a game changer for businesses across sectors.

Elective procedures have taken a severe toll due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The effects are hard hitting and deeply threaten innovation. Conformis – custom orthopedics implant maker – had to let go nearly one third of its employees due to the volume of elective procedures dwindling down to half. Conformis was lucky however as they were able to secure a $4.7 million Paycheck Protection Program loan to bring back most of the employees who were laid off.

Moving forward, there will be new steps and protocols in place to protect elective procedures to make sure they aren’t harmed in the process. These types of surgeries are still in demand – even if the demand isn’t as high or if the priority has shifted.

For companies that have robust diagnostic components such as Abbott Laboratories, the picture is a bit brighter. Abbott possesses immense diagnostic capabilities due to their acquisition of Alere a couple of years back. Abbott Laboratories have also developed four Covid-19 diagnostics. However, the picture isn’t as bright for Dublin-based Medtronic, who have reported that US weekly revenue has declined about 60% year over year on average.

When word came out that there is a shortage of ventilators, the automotive industry leaped into overdrive to help produce the technologies. President Trump even ensured that these ventilators would be put in the national stockpile via the Defense Production Act. However, will this be the last we see of the collaboration between the MedTech industry and the automotive one? It is very probable that a door has been opened for future collaboration between the two industries once we reach the other side of the pandemic.

How do you conduct social-distancing in the healthcare industry during the time of the pandemic? Well the answer is quite simple: Telemedicine. Most elements of social distancing are here to stay, we already know the handshake is long gone. So, you’re going to have to have something that can help in cutting down on the time taken for a patient’s routine checkup.

MD+DI News Editor Amanda Pedersen earlier reported that Jason Mills, a MedTech industry analyst at Canaccord Genuity shared his conclusions from three recent physician surveys across the structural heart, stroke/venous thromboembolism and robotic surgery fields. One of the key takeaways is that an overwhelming majority of doctors have swiftly embraced telemedicine during the crisis.

Testing has become crucial and will only become more important moving forward. There is still a shortage of tests for Covid-19, even while the FDA is granting and approving emergency use authorization for many firms. The pandemic is changing all of that, and we will soon witness several more diagnostic companies increase production and build testing capabilities. So, intense discussion surrounding these testing capabilities is to be expected. There will be more home tests as social distancing continues to gain popularity.

Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.

MedTech

Top 3 digital health technologies post- pandemic

Mounir Jamil

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Top 3 digital health technologies post- pandemic

It’s certain that the current pandemic will eventually come to an end. However, some of the digital health technologies we’ve adopted along the way have proven to be indispensable, and some technologies may not be so prominent after the crisis.

Here are top 3 digital health technologies that are likely to stick around post- pandemic.

1. Disinfectant robots

Ultraviolet (UV) lights, more specifically UV-C is a well-established digital disinfecting method that is commonly used in the healthcare world. It works by altering the virus’ genetic material, that way UV lights make sure that virus doesn’t replicate. However, if exposed to human skin, it can lead to sunburns, irritations, and in the worst case, skin cancer.

All that aside, the benefits of UV-C in effectively disinfecting hospitals is seriously attracting robotics engineers and healthcare workers alike. Companies such as YouiBot are reimagining and redesigning their current robots into UV disinfectant ones. Danish company UVD Robots has shipped hundreds of their existing disinfectant robots around the world during the pandemic.

In addition to saving valuable time and decreasing the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals, these robots will also prevent hospitals from getting infections.

2. AI for predicting future pandemics

In an ideal tech world, AI can predict a viral outbreak weeks, if not months in advance. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal tech world, but the good news is that we can work towards forecasting such a system with the help of current technologies.

AI company BlueDot has issued early first warnings, after scrutinizing massive data sets from news, airlines, and animal disease outbreaks. Their algorithim managed to detect a certain trend which Epidemiologists later analyzed further to confirm an outbreak.

But BlueDot is the exception and not the rule, so we must reverse the situation in order to better handle the next public health crisis. Given the massive predictive power that AI brings to the healthcare sector, the proper authorities should utilize its full potential and help in making it more commonplace in hospital settings.

3. Remote care via smartphones 

It’s a sad reality that the pandemic kick-started telemedicine for mainstream adoption. Before the crisis, only 1 in 10 US patients used telemedicine services, the number has now increased up to 158% in the same country.

With lockdowns enforced globally, people are utilizing the power of their smartphones for their mental and physical wellbeing. These new digital health technologies greatly reduce the risk of cross infection all while offering patients quality care from the comfort of their own homes

These solutions greatly reduce the risk of cross-infection while offering patients quality care from the comfort of their homes. What’s more, they prove that face-to-face doctor-patient visits are unnecessary. A Global Markets Insights report from April this year, projects that the telemedicine market value will reach $175.5 billion by 2026, indicating the need for remote care in the coming years.

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MedTech

The glaring problem with COVID-19 vaccine deployment

Adnan Kayyali

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The glaring problem with COVID-19 vaccine deployment

As most of us already know, creating a vaccine is only half the challenge of beating the pandemic. Getting 7 billion people vaccinated is a colossal undertaking, the scale of which has never been seen in history. How will the world manage and sustain COVID-19 vaccine deployment, and ensure equitable access to everyone?

It is not an easy task, and many people in positions of responsibility may have to make some difficult decisions. In short, we will not have enough vaccines for everyone by the end of this year, even if a particular vaccine candidate is deemed adequate.

In a document by the CDC published as a rough skeletal guideline, four categories of people were prioritized with newly produced or procured vaccine doses. This is to strategically use the scarce resources available to minimize the loss of life and maximize equity.

The document classified four categories of people that would receive the vaccine at different times according to a number of factors:

Category 1:

– High risk healthcare workers. First responders

– High risk older adults in congregate or crowded settings

Category 2:

Workers in critical industries and those living in an environment of high risk such as prison.

Category 3:

Young adults and children, and workers of essential industries that were not included in phase 2.

Category 4:

Everyone else.

In an Audio Interview “Guidelines for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment”, Eric J. Rubin, M.D., Ph.D. concurred. “We do this in medicine all the time”, he said “in that we plan to treat everybody but those who get sicker are the ones who need the treatment first, while we are scaling up or making any assessment of deploying a treatment”.

This task becomes more difficult in areas were the data on who needs what is scarce. Numerous collectives and institutions however are finding ways to guide their communities using localized data tracking, remote monitoring and some forms of contact tracing. They will be able to identify where and how many people require vaccination, how many vaccines are available for the taking, when more is coming, etc.

Having a clear picture is essential for any major endeavor to succeed, and a type of “communal immunity” can be achieved, to break the back of community transmission” as Rubin put it.

The issue of Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment isn’t when the vaccine is coming, but “who gets it first”. The answer given by the CDC seems to be a good one, from the perspective of the scientist, who have accepted the reality that vaccine equity is no easy task, and hard decisions must be made.

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MedTech

Professional networking amid the pandemic

Mounir Jamil

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Professional networking amid the pandemic

As the current pandemic lingers on, we see the effects come into full force. The pandemic has changed the way we learn, work and socialize.

The pandemic has had its fair share of effects on professional networking, as most of us are currently stuck at home with limited ways to make new professional connections, top CXOs and junior-mid level professionals are joining committed and specialized platforms to connect and talk with each other online. Some of these platforms include: CoffeMug, Grab Chai, and Lunchclub.

These AI-enabled platforms call themselves “AI Superconnectors” and are the latest trend in professional networking. In essence, they are matchmakers that employ an AI algorithm to set up one-one-one meetings that are based on users’ inserted objectives, interests, and preferred time slots. AI then connects the users on email through a concept known as “warm intros” and sends them through a calendar invite that is usually accompanied by a link for a video call.

Unlike LinkedIn, these professional networking platforms are gated communities, where a user can join only through invites from existing users or by applying on the platform to get registered. Once the person enters, users cannot simply send cold emails to one another to connect. The platform is smarter as you can only meet with one specific profile at a time. This eliminates the problem of spam messages flooding your inbox.

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