COVID-19: The Road to Recovery
The ongoing impact to the Healthcare industry
May 29, 2020
By Pasha Arshadi
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the world but has significantly changed the healthcare industry in unprecedented ways. Many healthcare providers and medical device manufacturers have had to suspend almost 50% of their operations and business practices due to mandated lockdown requirements and decreased demand. Working as a partner with many leading medical device manufacturers, we are continuously gaining insight into the effects this pandemic has on these organizations. As we work to forge a path to normalcy, we've identified seven phases we will encounter on the road to recovery.
In March of 2020, the first wave of coronavirus cases occurred in the United States with very little known about the virus. To protect the country, a cascade of lockdowns went into effect state by state, resulting in a Standstill (Phase 1) for many companies and citizens alike. Many have never experienced a lockdown of this magnitude, if any at all. In hopes of minimizing unnecessary infections to patients and healthcare providers, hospitals, and clinics were mandated to treat critical patients only, thus canceling any elective or "non-critical" procedures. It became evident that one of the major effects of this virus is on the human lungs and people's ability to breathe. This symptom, along with a rapidly spreading case count, placed a bright spotlight on supply shortages for breathing devices. As a result, the medical device industry sharply pivoted and shifted focus and resources to fill the supply gap for respirators and ventilators, including any manufacturing company that could assist in these efforts.
Shortly after the initial shock, businesses devised agile strategies to continue operations. This transitioned them into the Makeshift (Phase 2), a temporary state of living and operating. To help slow the spread of the virus, employees not deemed "essential" were required to shelter in place, strict social distancing measures put into effect, and in some counties across the U.S., it is mandatory to wear a face mask in public. People and businesses are eager for the economy to open up, although we are still uncertain of the coronavirus's potential effects.
As the 'curve has flattened' and the country begins to open slowly, we move into a Resuscitation (Phase 3). Healthcare providers are developing strategies in conjunction with local and state authorities to safely ramp-up operations once the country begins to lift its most significant restrictions. Individual states will start to ease some restrictions, allowing hospitals and medical staff to schedule patients' elective procedures previously canceled, which in many cases account for 50% of a hospital's revenue.
As the country begins to show some success in its re-opening efforts with new social distancing norms in place and businesses operating with more substantial safety restrictions, we anticipate a Surge (Phase 4). People will begin to try and resume somewhat of a "normal" life. Prior to the start of the flu season with an anticipated second wave of coronavirus infections on the horizon, those who previously planned elective procedures will be eager to get them done. With a large number of appointments previously deferred and rescheduled, preparing for this inevitable activity surge amongst patients will be crucial for healthcare providers and device manufacturers.
As we move into fall, we anticipate a Re-emergence (Phase 5), of coronavirus cases. The impact is unknown and how widespread the second wave of infections could be, and potentially many of the same mandates from the first emergence of the virus could be re-instated. With social distancing now a common practice, businesses having resources operating remotely, and new safety measures for those in the workplace, we hope to mitigate this re-emergence. During this time, people will need to be particularly careful and conservative more than ever. If companies are diligent and proactively preparing during the summer months through fall, they potentially can mitigate downtime and lost revenue during the anticipated second wave of infections.
Come early next year, we hope to be at a point where vaccine trials are showing positive outcomes. As we overcome the second wave of infections with confidence, business demand will significantly increase, resulting in a Resurgence (Phase 6). Healthcare providers and device manufacturers that have planned for this inevitable surge will prosper accordingly.
By the summer of 2021, we move to operate at pre-pandemic capacity. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting fallout will be a not-so-distant memory, but we will begin to live in a new normal, the Rebirth (Phase 7). Typical business practices from the pre-2020 era will be changed forever. These changes will be necessary for the businesses of tomorrow to evolve and grow. Some companies will not survive, but those that do thrive will have readiness plans in place and a dynamic infrastructure to operate in the post COVID-19 era.
As we navigate these uncharted waters, we will continue to provide updates and insight on the road to recovery into the paths we have traversed as a society and remaining hurdles to be cleared. We hope to provide our partners in the industry a broader view into critical working strategies within the outlined phases that will give the best outcome to efficiently operate their businesses while supporting patients in the markets served.
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