After a turbulent 2020, rapid change will continue to mark medical device manufacturing in the year ahead. Trends we covered in our end-of-year recap remain true in 2021: digital acceleration, supply chain transformation and high demand for diagnostics, PPEs, single-use devices. What does the 2021 forecast hold in regards to medtech industry shifts?
Looking ahead, we’ve compiled reports from reputable sources to highlight four shifts that need your attention in 2021.
2021 Medtech Industry Shifts
Partnerships become critical
One trend that’s been fermenting for some time but gained new steam with the pandemic is a growing conviction that medical device manufacturers can’t go it alone. It’s going to take strategic partnerships to overcome emerging challenges, protect profits and grow market share.
As we wrote one year ago, the need for strategic partners applies to both large and small manufacturers:
- For large OEMs, third-party relationships enable increased capacity and versatility while remaining cost-effective.
- Small to medium startups need partners to keep costs down and increase their speed to market.
“Whether large or small, OEMs are relying on contract manufacturing organizations for everything from added manufacturing capacity to product design and development, to technical expertise,” said Tom Ryder, president & CEO of Genesis Plastics Welding. “Multifaceted partners will be key for all OEMs to continue to bring sophisticated niche medical devices to market.”
Omkar Kulkarni, chief innovation officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told Becker’s Hospital Review that he expects 2021 to be a year of realignment in digital health:
“As provider systems adjust to the next normal, they will find that consumer preferences for convenience, experience and cost are even stronger than before the pandemic,” he said. As a response, “health systems will look to virtual care offerings as differentiators in their competitive markets, especially when coupled with remote monitoring and digital therapeutic offerings that can provide wraparound virtual services.”
David Shulkin, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, agrees: “By the end of 2021, more than one-third of patients will access their healthcare through a hospital or health system’s digital front door.”
Muthu Krishnan, chief digital transformation officer for IKS Health also foresees a surge in disease-specific digital health solutions. “The breakthrough for digital health in 2021 will be physicians embracing [disease-specific] tools and technologies to improve care delivery, care outcomes and patient satisfaction,” he said.
Also under the digital umbrella, Fierce Healthcare predicts communication and collaboration tools will explode in 2021.
Consumers take the driver’s seat
For years, the healthcare industry promised to be “patient-centered” but the claim wasn’t common practice. COVID-19 has forced medical device manufacturers to make that a priority, reports TechRepublic.
Fierce Healthcare also covered the theme: “Consumer’s expectation levels around virtual and digital healthcare are rising, and business processes will change to meet those expectations.” That includes greater personalization, increased telemedicine capabilities, mental health applications, and more.
In response, Fierce Healthcare predicts medical technology manufacturers will meet these new expectations and enable patients to drive their own healthcare journey.
Repositioning for opportunity
In closing, we’ll leave you with an observation from McKinsey researchers:
“While the COVID-19 outbreak is an overwhelming humanitarian crisis, it also presents an opportunity for reform in healthcare delivery. As services, case volumes, and medtech operations stabilize, the industry and each of its participants will be challenged to fundamentally rethink their business and operating models to adapt to the healthcare needs of the future.”
With that in mind, forward-thinking companies must take steps now to “reimagine the system, patient journey, and their interfaces and relationships with healthcare providers.” That includes rethinking your supply-chain network and key suppliers, they add.
This is also a time to live your company values in tangible ways and respond with new products, services and operating models that support patients and clinicians, McKinsey concludes: “This is both the right thing to do and will position companies for success in years to come.”
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