Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

How Medtech Business Can Evolve Stronger Out of the CoronaVirus Pandemic

In every crisis lies buried the seed of great future opportunity.

The COVID crisis is no exception. Neither is the healthcare industry.

As the world picks up its shattered pieces and reassembles them back into unity, the picture we will frame is likely to be quite different from what it once was.

How will it differ? 

That’s hard to say.

But from the perspective of our healthcare industry, here are 4 trends that are highly likely to play out – and provide rich opportunity for smart, agile players.

1. Resources and Capacity Will Expand

Currently, India has a hospital bed strength of 0.7 per 1000 population. We have 1 doctor for approximately every 1,400 people in the country. And 1.7 nurses per 1000.

In 2017-2018, we spent 1.28% of our national GDP on healthcare.

These shortages, many of which fall below recommended WHO standards, are being better appreciated during this crisis that stresses resources and strains current capacity. 

We should expect reforms to be initiated rapidly and extensively.

During such resource expansion, healthcare businesses that are positioned correctly can reap rich rewards.

2. Entirely New Product Lines Will Be Established

A population of 1.3 billion is learning to live differently.

Better hygienic practices, cleaner habits, and more sensible personal distancing measures, that were earlier out of our realm of consideration, have now intruded rudely upon our awareness – and even acquired survival value.

As some of these practices continue into the future, completely new product lines will evolve (like ‘survival kits’ and ‘personal protection kits’ for non-medical professionals), as will demand for personal hygiene products like hand sanitizers, face masks and protective head coverings or shields.

Manufacturers of these items, or businesses that can extend their product lines to include them, will grow along with this new demand.

3. Supply Chains Will Get Reorganized

The 1990s set off a wave of offshoring and outsourcing to cut costs. Just in time delivery and shrinking inventory saved healthcare firms millions in costs, boosting bottom line profits.

But in the throes of a COVID crisis, businesses are waking up to the harsh flipside of such cost-cutting… the fracturing or vaporization of supply chains!

Lack of transportation of raw material or essential components that are being manufactured overseas will keep factories and production lines shut down for long after the social isolation lockdown ends.

In a post-COVID landscape, look for supply chains to be re-engineered for efficiency, not cost. Healthcare businesses that partner with bigger players can see opportunity amidst this shift.

4. Self sufficiency Will Become The Watchword

We need face masks and PPE. We place orders from nations that manufacture them in surplus. And another country bids more, and diverts the shipment elsewhere. We’re left short – and suffering.

We need a vaccine against COVID. We’re waiting for well-funded, established, adequately staffed and equipped labs in other nations to work hard and discover one. But then, we’ll be on a waiting list for enough doses – along with the rest of the world.

We need intermediary molecules for manufacturing life-saving drugs and medicines. But because they are made in a foreign country (which has extensive resources, and can save on costs), we can’t get them shipped here today. How do we then manufacture those medicines our people need?

These are untenable situations. The COVID crisis has exposed them. And it cannot be allowed to continue. It will not.

Expect a surge in indigenous R&D (research and development) in the healthcare sector, designed to create capacity to fulfill future needs in these areas – and more.
It’s not just a matter of economics or business, now. It’s a matter of national security.

And This Isn’t All
There are surely many, many different areas in which we will be forced to rethink, reorganize and re-deploy our assets and human resources strategically in the wake of the current post-COVID crisis.

As a nation, we’re up to the challenge.
And as a healthcare business, you should make sure you are, too