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Written by Sujeet Sudhir
on 28 Apr 2020

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 outbreak a global emergency, mobilizing resources to contain the pandemic effectively. As a counter-measure to stop the spread of the disease, countries world over began implementing nationwide lockdowns. Crucial in controlling the spread in the long-run, lockdowns, however, brought the global economy to its knees. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicts that the world economy would grow at the slowest rate since 2009 due to the upheaval.


MedTech industry is at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. Supplying everything, from protective masks, gowns, gloves to diagnostics kits to ventilators, the industry is essentially a lifeline during these troubled times. It has shown tremendous agility in rising to the challenge to meet the ever-growing demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), diagnostic tools, and therapeutic devices. Since this is a novel virus, the epidemiology of the disease wasn’t clearly understood. Therefore, clear diagnostic and care pathways could not be carved out.

And yet, within a record time of just two to three months, MedTech firms have come up with game-changing innovations to address the unmet clinical needs of the market.

As the medical device companies are pressure tested to deliver in these trying times, they face herculean challenges, including:

  • Disrupted supply chains
  • Increasing operational costs
  • Adjusting to new demand for elective surgeries post COVID-19
  • Improving R&D productivity
  • Launching market-ready products quickly
  • Reconfiguring manufacturing

Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Industry 4.0, cloud, mobile, additive manufacturing have shown a lot of promise to help MedTech companies overcome the current challenges. Unfortunately, scaling these technologies across ecosystems and geographies has been a significant roadblock. This includes delays in clinical trials and lengthy procedures to market access. Given the new realities, adopting these technologies is no longer an option. The organizations that will quickly rebound post COVID19 will be the ones that will leverage digital as a core to their operations.

Based on our deep domain experience and a long-standing history of helping MedTech customer, we believe digital technologies can be deployed to gain tangible business impact. Here is how:

 

Process Automation

Automation is a proven method to reduce errors, save costs, and improve time-to-market. In MedTech space, technologies such as cognitive automation and process automation have been leveraged for creating regulatory documentation and filing. An example includes developing safety and efficacy related documentation for European Medical Device Regulation (MDR) 2017 using XML. Another example is in adhering to new labeling requirements released by the FDA and NIH. Utilizing cloud automation, one can release labeling updates across geographies reaping cost benefits and time-savings. Besides, combining industry-specific domain experience with digital and analytics expertise machine data for enhanced equipment utilization and predictive asset maintenance. Predictive asset maintenance solutions can significantly improve equipment uptime and reduce warranty costs

 

Digitizing Operations

Digitizing operations, including supply chain and manufacturing through deploying IoT will ease out the burden of MedTech firms post COVID19. Digital supply chains are known to optimize inventory management, logistics, and distribution by utilizing sensor-based connected ecosystems. Also, additive manufacturing/3D printing can help in rapid prototyping to quickly validate designs, thereby contracting product life cycles as well as ensuring design for manufacturability. For MedTech companies, another breakthrough in operations will come about by the quick adoption of the game-changing theme of Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is a culmination of IoMT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart devices, and robotics all applied to drastically improve manufacturing productivity, regulatory compliance, and quality adherence.

 

Product and Service Innovation

Healthcare systems have traditionally been a pay-for-service model rather than a pay-for-outcomes model. COVID19 has highlighted how important and urgent is the need for outcomes-based and value-based healthcare. MedTech companies can support this transition by developing products and services that lead to better outcomes, lower costs, and decrease the burden of diseases. This can be achieved through platform-based technologies that cover the overall care continuum rather than addressing just a part of it. One example is how managing diabetes has evolved by tightly integrating on screening, diagnostics, prognosis, treatment, and follow-up.

Another example is how mobile surveillance solutions have effectively deployed to track and trace potentially infected people. Additionally, connected labs and instruments have delivered test results in real-time, effectively turning data into actionable intelligence. These examples elucidate that data is the new currency, and if monetized appropriately, can deliver results.

 

As companies emerge out of the crisis, the focus will be on sustaining the business and eventually growing it to the pre-COVID19 era. Organizations that adopt digital technologies and efficiently scale them will successfully accelerate the transition. We at Cyient are here to help you successfully navigate the crisis and beyond through digital transformation.

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