2020: Medtech to the rescue
As I write this, the coronavirus is picking up speed in parts of the U.S. where it hadn’t yet hit hard, where residents weary of staying home jumped at the chance to reconnect in public once elected officials felt they could safely reopen their economies.
Some of those officials had to backtrack and order bars and restaurants to close again as infection counts mounted and hospitals filled with desperately ill patients.
While the virus has sickened millions across the globe and killed hundreds of thousands, one thing that has remained steadfast throughout this difficult year has been the medical device industry. Once it weathered the first waves in Asia, Europe and the U.S. Northeast, the industry was better prepared for the next U.S. wave, which hit the American South and Southwest beginning in June and continued moving through Central and South America while spreading rapidly in Africa.
It wasn’t easy, as officials of pulse oximeter manufacturer Nonin Medical and N95 maskmaker 3M attest in my feature story on COVID-19 lessons learned. Our team of editors detail medtech’s ongoing pandemic-fighting efforts throughout this issue:
- DeviceTalks editorial director Tom Salemi tells how Mayo Clinic responded to shortages in critical supplies.
- Executive editor Chris Newmarker explains how medtech companies are rethinking their legal strategies in light of the pandemic.
- Senior editor Danielle Kirsh details what tubing and extrusion companies are doing to keep up with demand for tubing that’s essential to devices that continue to be in high demand, including ventilators and infusion pumps.
- Assistant editor Sean Whooley takes a look at what goes into a ventilator. (Hint: They do a lot more than just pump air.)
- Design World executive editor Lee Teschler takes apart a pulse oximeter to show — and tell — how it works.
This issue isn’t all about the pandemic, however. Our cover story illustrates how medtech continues to evolve. We evaluated scores of startup companies before deciding which 20 are working on the hottest new technology and which five qualified as runners-up.
We also cover innovations that medical device industry suppliers have come up with, from 3D-printed “anatomical twins” that allow surgeons to rehearse procedures to thick-walled, stainless steel tubing that’s inexpensive enough to make disposable orthopedic drills and reamers.
Looking ahead, we can acknowledge that while medtech couldn’t save everyone, it has surely helped save many, many lives. Parts of the industry that aren’t involved in making critical equipment for COVID-19 — including orthopedic and cardiac device makers — are hoping for a stronger end to 2020 as elective procedures resume and customer orders return.
For the time being, most of the events that usually bring the industry together to exchange ideas and showcase products are still on hold. However, you can keep up with the latest from the industry every week with our DeviceTalks Tuesdays online events and our DeviceTalks Weekly podcasts. Check them out. And in the meantime, stay safe and healthy.
Medical Design & Outsourcing