The impact of COVID-19 on the medtech industry has included equipment shortages and delays in production, but it has also brought about incredible innovation and cross-industry collaboration. So how will the medtech industry emerge from the coronavirus pandemic? A recent study indicates a gradual path to recovery over the next 18 months. The research is based on a survey of 200 supply-chain professionals who work at medical device companies based in North America. Conceptial Inc. conducted the research between August and September 2020 on behalf of Supply-frame, a developer of SaaS solutions.

According to the survey, the vast majority (74 percent) of respondents predict that a recovery could take a year or longer, while a small percentage believe the industry is either back at full capacity or that it will never reach that point again. The study further indicates agility, new forms of collaboration, and data intelligence as critical elements that will help them adapt to the post-pandemic business landscape.

“While the medtech sector is among the hardest hit by the global pandemic, resulting in historic demand spikes and equipment shortages, it is also characterized by unparalleled innovation and collaboration from people around the world,” says Steve Flagg, CEO of Supplyframe. “With the pandemic still a reality in our day-to-day lives, it is clear that a new approach to supply-chain planning and collaboration is required.”

The survey identified the top medtech supply-chain risks to be supply shortages (15 percent), lack of alternatives (12 percent), and delays in production issues (12 percent). Increasing the qualifications of multiple suppliers in the product design phase to improve supply-chain resiliency was the most frequently cited strategy for mitigating these risks. To prepare for the next pandemic or natural disaster:

  • 16 percent recommend a supply-chain redesign to source locally.

  • 14 percent suggest improving qualifications of suppliers and the review process.

  • 13 percent advocate improving visibility of supplier inventory, capacity, and lead times.

  • 12 percent endorse restructuring supply chains with second sources.

The study further suggests that there is a significant disconnect between data available to make planning and manufacturing decisions, and the perception around the quality of available data. An overwhelming 92 percent of survey participants emphasized the importance of accurate COVID-19 case data to correctly forecast demand requirements and inform manufacturing efforts. Yet 84 percent expressed worries about how COVID-19 case data is being collected and reported in the United States.

“Looking at these responses, it’s clear that organizations are seeing the importance of demand planning and derisking the sourcing process,” says Flagg.

Sherrie Trigg

Editor and Director of Medical Content

A summary infographic is available here .