The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in the healthcare industry. All players, from medical device manufacturers to healthcare providers to medical practitioners, have been forced to rethink the very fundamentals of how their work is performed. In a wide-ranging interview, Jyotirmay Datta (JD), EVP and Business Head at LTTS, speaks about the ways that his organization can play an important role in the positive changes that healthcare businesses are enacting, to prepare the medical industry for the post-Covid world.
Getting the product mix right for the post-Covid world
JD explains that due to postponement of elective procedures, much lower visits to Outpatients departments and low utilization of ER, every part of the Healthcare industry is disrupted by COVID19. However, the level of disruption is different for different players. One consequence is that hospitals are reducing their spend on medical equipment to conserve cash while significantly increase allocation of funds to upgrade their telehealth capabilities. This is affecting all device OEMs to varying degrees depending on their product mix, but all of them are trying to reduce their expenditure in the short term. This is where LTTS comes in: to help organizations to adapt their product mix to suit hospitals’ new requirements, and to do so in a cost-effective way. He pinpoints accelerating R&D, particularly for the products in demand for the fight against Covid-19, as a key space for LTTS to grow in, as well as supporting their manufacturing and supply chains, and supporting the producers with regulatory approvals.
“The top medical device companies all reflect a very similar sentiment,” says JD. “When we look at the pharma and health insurance companies, there have been very little impact on them. So, they are continuing to perform well, revenues are growing and bottom lines are still very healthy”.
Working together to streamline diagnostics
One of the biggest demands on the medical industry in recent months has been to improve the speed of diagnosis, while not compromising on the accuracy of tests. JD is confident that the healthcare industry can accomplish this - and is certain that LTTS can help. He mentions that effective diagnostics requires effective collaboration between OEMs, clinical trials organizations, regulatory agencies and different healthcare bodies. With wide-ranging experience in diagnostics and regulatory affairs, LTTS is well placed to expedite testing and validation of the new solutions that are tabled, can offer services for regulatory submissions, and can help to enhance their manufacturing capacity.
“The OEMs, clinical trials organizations, regulatory agencies, government bodies, healthcare bodies - to make sure that R&D happens in a very efficient manner they all have to coordinate and collaborate very well,” continues JD. “In the near term, LTTS is helping expedite the testing and the validation process for some of this equipment that is being tested by the OEMs. We also are helping with the manufacturing capacity as well. We have a role in the life-cycle of each product, from its design to the time it is introduced to the market.”
Improved remote care - the silver lining
Another key area for LTTS is remote patient care. This issue is even more essential considering the challenges posed by Covid-19. JD feels that here, too, LTTS has a role to play in supporting healthcare providers.
“If there is one positive outcome of this life-changing event, it is the massively increased adoption of telehealth and remote care solutions,” he says. “If we were to rewind the last six months, some of the major issues standing in the way of greater adoption of telehealth were regulatory approvals for most of the procedures, insurance reimbursements for telehealth-based treatments, and security concerns.
“Now, as a result of Covid-19, regulations have been eased by CDC and HHS for more than 80 telehealth-based procedures. CMS has approved them for Medicare, and other insurance companies have agreed for reimbursements. As a result, providers have rolled them out in greater numbers. Patients have adopted them like never before: in some of the larger health systems, telehealth transactions have gone from a few thousand per month to tens of thousands per week.”
Supply chain disruption: a problem or an opportunity?
One challenge to the healthcare industry that is still causing anxiety amongst its stakeholders is disruptions to the supply chain. LTTS is one of the companies that is helping medical device manufacturers to relocate their manufacturing plants, adding new manufacturing lines, and enabling higher operational efficiency to ensure supply of critical medical equipment to the healthcare providers is continued.
Finding alternative sites and adapting to a new supply chain is complex: medtech manufacturing locations, JD explains, are spread across the USA, Europe and Asia. As per JD, Medtech companies are seriously evaluating their strategy for expansion in South Asia including India. This is offering opportunities for LTTS.
The iBEMS platform: the shield to keep patients and healthcare staff safe
JD also sees an opportunity for LTTS to make hospitals a more harmonious place in the post-Covid world. He explains that it is the perfect moment for the company’s iBEMS platform, an innovative, cloud-based building experience management system of systems that allows individual systems in the hospital to intelligently connect to each other. This solution can also now upgraded to keep the hospital spaces healthy for air quality, social distancing and temperature monitoring. JD paints the picture of a hospital experience that is entirely touchless.
“Let’s try to visualize how this may play out,” says JD. “A patient enters the hospital and is greeted by a robot. A thermal detection is done; their face image is captured, their symptoms are entered using IT, and then the patient is directed by the wayfinder to the relevant medical officer. Medications are then ordered online and delivered to the patient’s home. Touch screens can be replaced by voices; in the pathological and imaging labs, information can be communicated via gestures. Technologies that guide the patient without requiring any contact have become so important for making sure the environment is safe and healthy.”
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