Seasoned medtech leaders have typically seen their companies through historic disruptions requiring rapid shifts in production, realignment of deliverables, reallocation of raw materials, and more. Whether this was in response to natural disasters, trade disputes, or some other significant disruption, experienced executive teams with well-devised contingency plans have traditionally managed to move forward in the face of challenge.

But unlike any disruption that has come before, Covid-19 has sent shockwaves rippling through the industry and economy, generating unprecedented challenges and uncertain repercussions. Medtech leaders and healthcare product-innovators have been scrambling to make sense of the crisis amid a daily onslaught of new unknowns that have made the adaptive curve exceptionally steep.

Even with the Covid-19 crisis still underway, we can identify lessons that guide the road ahead. Even as questions mount about the future of our industry and economy, medtech leaders can find practical, proven ways forward. Below are four strategies for navigating disruption and preparing for new opportunities.

  1. Commit to greater diversification. It is no longer prudent to commit to a non-distributed supplier and production partner. A diverse, distributed, worldwide sourcing network with both domestic and offshore hubs is necessary for reducing risk, defending against disruption, and meeting deliverable schedules. From sourcing to production to storage to transportation to distribution, it’s imperative to have domestic and offshore sourcing options and a wide range of alternatives to fortify your supply chain.
  2. Protect your workforce while preserving customer relationships. After the COVID-19 health crisis, we will likely see a resurgence of demand. When this occurs, healthcare technology companies must be able to rapidly deploy a skilled, experienced workforce because no company can afford to lose your window of opportunity in the time required for acquiring and onboarding new hires. It will also be necessary to recalibrate sales goals and update commission structures to reflect the emerging sales climate and ensure your sales reps aren’t disincentivized by targets that no longer make sense. This means considering alternative contracting structures or potential price reductions for customers. Not only will this go far in deepening client relationships and attracting new customers, but it’s also likely to pay significant dividends for your sales forces in terms of driving future commissions. Furthermore, showing your customers and prospects that you’re willing to make concessions amid times of challenge helps to authenticate your brand as a trustable partner that has your customers’ interests at heart.
  3. Dedicate downtime to the design of new processes. This crisis will subside, but like all major disruptions, it will permanently impact the industry and drive the design of new processes for increasing resiliency and agility. Use this time to experiment, adapt, and innovate on existing processes, strategies, and systems. Whether this looks like reconfiguring on-site operations to conform with social-distancing protocols, adopting synchronous communication platforms to increase coordination between remote teams, relocating inventory to regions of highest demand, or ramping up your executive team’s investment in scenario planning, take this time to prepare for what’s next while positioning your company as an active agent of industry change.
  4. Prepare to act on emerging opportunities accelerated by the current crisis. It wasn’t that long ago when the idea of telehealth prompted head-scratching from many who couldn’t conceive of how remote treatment could be effectively delivered. Today, of course, we’ve gone well beyond simple telehealth, and the reality of social distancing and even quarantine — currently and for the foreseeable future — means that the demand for technologies and products that enable at-home care are accelerating. Seizing this opportunity will require new supply chain strategies, commercial models, and user interfaces to successfully develop and market innovative products. Medical product manufacturers and technology supply chain partners will be well served with investment in digital platforms and IoT devices designed to support real-time physician consultations, healthcare-provider training, and customer-engagement.

Now is the time for medtech leaders, medical device manufacturers, and the accompanying supply chain to begin tackling disruption, seize emerging opportunities, and drive innovation to deliver compelling solutions. Innovation in a time of crisis is never easy. Still as history shows, companies willing to successfully rise to the challenge are those that will prove themselves leaders in advancing the industry and actively shaping a new and better future.

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