What’s going to happen to the industry after the COVID-19 crisis? Some bold predictions about what could happen in medtech and the impact the virus could have on the industry for years to come.
Make no mistake about it. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a gamechanger for society going forward. We’re going to be living in a new normal when we (hopefully) move past this. But what that new normal looks like for the medtech and diagnostics industry is a mystery. MD+DI’s managing editor Omar Ford is offering up seven bold predictions about what the industry will look like post-COVID-19.
Enhanced Protocols for Elective Procedures
Elective procedures have taken a backseat because of COVID-19. The results are hard-hitting and have the potential to threaten innovation. Custom orthopedics implant maker Conformis, for example, had to furlough about one-third of its employees as volume of elective procedures nearly came to a screeching halt. The firm was one of the lucky ones as it was able to secure a $4.7 million Paycheck Protection Program loan and bring back most of the workers on furlough. However, companies like Second Sight – developer of implantable visual prosthetics, is in the process of winding down operations.
Going forward there will probably be protocols and steps in place to make sure elective procedures aren’t harmed in the process. These surgeries are still needed – even if the priority has shifted or isn’t as high.
Diagnostics Firms Could Be Acquisition Targets
The picture for some of the larger companies in the space during the COVID-19 pandemic is like a tale of two cities. For the companies that have robust diagnostic components like Abbott Laboratories, the picture is a bit brighter. Abbott has tremendous diagnostic capabilities due to its acquisition of Alere a few years back and has developed four COVID-19 diagnostics. But when you look at Medtronic, the picture isn’t as bright. The Dublin-based company said U.S. weekly revenue has declined about 60% year-over-year on average.
That being said, when things get a bit better, the larger strategics might come to see the need for incorporating diagnostic firms in their respective wheelhouse.
New Players to the Industry
When it was announced there would be a shortage of ventilators, the automotive industry went into overdrive to help produce the technologies. President Donald Trump ensured these ventilators would be put in the national stockpile through the Defense Production Act. But will this be the last we’ve seen of the automotive industry working with medtech?
It’s doubtful and perhaps a door has been opened to see future collaboration between the two industries once we get on the other side of COVID-19.
Paying Closer Attention to Viral Mutations
A couple of weeks ago, MD+DI interviewed, Joern Mosener VP of Assay R&D and clinical affairs of Luminex. The company had just been granted emergency use authorization for tests that would detect viruses that cause COVID-19. During the interview, Mosener noted that biosurveillance of viruses is going to be a key point moving forward.
“That means that we as a diagnostic industry have to ensure that on a constant basis, we monitor the viruses that materialize out there and also update our tests more quickly if something new shows up,” Mosener told MD+DI.
He’s absolutely right. These viruses have the potential to mutate and if the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that diagnostic companies need to prep and be ahead of the curve as much as they can.
A Total Overhaul of Clinical Trials? Nah, Probably Not. But a lot of Discussion Surrounding ’em!
No, the rules that govern clinical trials probably won’t be thrown out of the window or completely revamped. But there will probably be a hard look at the lessons that can be learned from the clinical trials from this time period.
Telemedicine Will be at the Forefront
How do you do social-distancing in healthcare? The answer is simple: Telemedicine. Like it or not some elements of social-distancing are probably here to stay (we already know the handshake is gone), so you’re going to have something that can help cut down on patients coming to the office each time for routine checkups.
Earlier this month, MD+DI News Editor Amanda Pedersen reported that,Jason Mills, a medtech analyst at Canaccord Genuity, shared conclusions earlier this week from three recent physician surveys that his firm conducted across the structural heart, robotic surgery, and stroke/venous thromboembolism fields. One of the key takeaways is that the overwhelming majority of doctors have “swiftly embraced” telemedicine during the crisis.
Diagnostics, Diagnostics, Diagnostics
Testing is so crucial now and it will be even more important going forward. Even now there is a shortage of tests for COVID-19, even as FDA is approving and granting emergency use authorization to many firms. The pandemic is going to change all of that and we’re going to see many more diagnostic companies ramp up production and build out testing capabilities.
So, expect intense discussion surrounding testing capabilities. Perhaps there will be more home tests as social distancing rages on. Expect there to be changes and expect diagnostic companies and products to be an even bigger part of the healthcare conversation going forward.