The global pandemic gave the healthcare industry a boost it needed but was not expecting. It has spurred a demand for medical innovation, and many businesses have started to invest in healthcare software development.
Just in a few months, healthcare technology companies have become a central focus. Countries around the world require technology and equipment to fight the virus: tests, respirator masks, protective equipment, ventilators, defibrillators, and more. And here both large and small medical technology companies are coming forward as crucial players in the face of the coronavirus spread.
Amid the global stock market crash that began on February 20, 2020, medical stocks were hit not so hard as stocks of companies in industries like aviation, tourism, hospitality. They declined in the first three months of 2020, but now they are recovering back and are expected to become even stronger. For example, in the US, the healthcare industry has been a perennial underperformer lagging the S&P 500 for five years, and underperforming 10% last year. With the COVID crisis, this all has changed, and the sector has begun to outperform (-17% vs -22% for S&P 500).
The world’s largest medical device companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, Medtronic, Danaher, 3M, etc. are adjusting to the new normal thanks to the support of the government and investments from businessmen. According to MassDevice’s MedTech 100, their stocks have seen a slight growth after March 23 - its lowest point during the pandemic when the index sat at 62.13. Looking ahead, healthcare technology companies are projected to generate annual earnings of 9% and revenue growth of 14%, the highest of all sectors in the S&P 500, according to FactSet data.
In this article, however, we want to focus on the top medical device companies that help contain the virus on the local level in their countries. Given the fact that we have all been put in a Great Lockdown, each country is trying to ramp up its own production of critical medical equipment to avoid delays in export and inflated prices. We will analyze how healthcare technology companies from the UK, the USA, Canada, India, Germany, Italy, etc. are coping with increasing demands and what types of solutions they offer to save the lives of millions in this challenging time.
Top solutions healthcare technology companies offer to contain the virus
#1 WEINMANN Emergency
WEINMANN Emergency is a German medical technology company founded back in 1874 that employs more than 200 people. It develops medical equipment ranging from emergency cases and backpacks to suction machines, oxygen systems, portable ventilators and defibrillators. The company distributes its products in Germany and in more than 120 other countries around the world.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, WEINMANN Emergency has seen increased demand for its products, so their factory has been operating 24/7. The Ministry of Health has named WEINMANN Emergency ‘a systemically important company’ and has simplified the certification process of some of its products, which has positively affected the supply chain.
The company’s key products that are in demand amid the coronavirus spread are medical ventilators and defibrillators. They are designed for use both outdoors and during transport. As a technology partner of WEINMANN Emergency, N-iX helps the company expand its development capabilities and improve the time to market of one of their key products. Together with the client’s team, we have been working on a new version of MEDUCORE Standard², a portable defibrillator. Besides its main function – giving an electric shock, the defibrillator has a number of other important features. It measures and displays the heart rate, pulse rate, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure of a patient. Thanks to measuring the SpO2 level, it is possible to detect the coronavirus at an early stage when there are no severe symptoms without a coronavirus test. Low oxygen levels below 90% may indicate that a patient has coronavirus pneumonia.
#2 Ventec Life Systems
Ventec Life Systems is one of the top US healthcare technology companies based in Bothell, Washington. Its main solution VOCSN integrates five separate devices including a ventilator, oxygen concentrator, cough assist, suction, and nebulizer into one unified respiratory system. In response to COVID-19 pandemic, Ventec Life Systems has partnered with GM to meet the urgent need for more ventilators. The GM Kokomo facility is already working on the production of Ventec’s critical care ventilator, VOCSN. Ventec and GM plan to deliver more than 10,000 critical care ventilators per month with the infrastructure and capability to scale further. Also, they have developed sourcing plans for the more than 700 individual parts that are needed to build up to 200,000 VOCSN.
OneBreath is a Bangalore-based medical device company that develops a simple and affordable ventilator to satisfy the needs for critical care in emerging countries. Over 50% of the world's pneumonia deaths occur in India, where many hospitals lack ventilators. With the outbreak of Covid-19, the need for an effective, low-cost mechanical ventilator capable of supporting patients in acute respiratory distress in low-resource environments becomes even more urgent. Thus, the company is working to speed up the time to market of its solution. Their goal is to produce 10,000 ventilators in six months, providing welcome relief to overwhelmed hospitals.
Masks and protective clothing
Ao-Air is a New Zealand-based tech startup that offers a powerful alternative to a traditional face mask. Ao Air’s patented technology protects from air pollution, airborne pathogens, and illnesses. As a result, Ao Air’s Atmos face mask provides users with up to 50X better protection than market-leading respirators, pollution masks, and allergy masks.
The company got 1,500 online pre-orders since January and is completely sold out. With the increase in demands for Atmos face masks due to the coronavirus outbreak, Ao Air is looking for investors to set up a manufacturing plant in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC).
Although Ao Air’s Atmos face mask was initially designed to protect from polluted air, now the company’s focus has changed due to the pandemic. The company is in the process of getting approvals from governments around the world to make it a certified product that will help combat Covid-19.
Sonovia is an Israeli startup that develops anti-pathogen fabric that could be used in producing masks, hazard suits, hospital apparel to stop the spread of coronavirus. The company has recently received a European Commission Horizon 2020 grant. Its ultrasonic fabric-finishing technology has won several prizes in China. Sonovia is currently working to raise the necessary funds in order to scale up and commercialize and bring their life-saving technology to the market.
ThinkResearch is a Toronto-based healthcare software company founded in 2006. It develops knowledge-based tools that help clinicians deliver the best care to patients. The company deploys its products in over 1,000 facilities across Canada, the US and the EU.
In the wake of coronavirus spread, ThinkResearch offers a suite of clinical tools that can help hospitals contain the pandemic: Virtual Care, Order Sets, and Clinical Support Tools. With Virtual Care, physicians are able to provide safe virtual visits to patients. Order Sets helps standardize clinical processes. Its clinical content library mobilizes best practices and recommendations from Canadian public health agencies, health ministries, infectious disease experts, etc. and helps healthcare organizations implement them. It consists of over 1,000 order sets and clinical pathways, including COVID-19 content updated to reflect emerging knowledge within 72 hours. Clinical Support Tools includes a set of checklists, protocols, and screening questions to help nurses, physicians, and hospital staff to provide a unified, comprehensive response to COVID-19.
N-iX had been a technology partner of ThinkResearch for almost 2 years. We provided healthcare software development services for a number of applications including EntryPoint, MedRec, ProgressNotes, Spotlight, eForms, PatientPortal, and Virtual Care. We helped ThinkResearch improve their existing products and build new software solutions that are now used in over 300 healthcare organizations.
#7 AMC Health
AMC Health is a New York-based medical device company that specializes in virtual healthcare solutions. Recently, it has announced new telehealth interactive voice response (IVR) solutions for COVID-19 patients amid growing demand for virtual healthcare. AMC Health has provided new automated interactive survey and education templates - specific to COVID-19 - to their clients and providers. Also, the company has enhanced mobile monitoring solutions and secure video conferencing.
#8 Now Healthcare Group
Now Healthcare Group is the UK-based healthcare technology company founded in 2014. Its main products are NowGP - private online GP consultation services; NowHealthcare - corporate digital GP consultation service; and NowPatient - National Health Service based product. Now Healthcare Group became the first mobile GP service provider to be declared ‘safe’ and meet all regulations set by the UK's Care Quality Commission in July 2017. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the mobile app Now Patient has seen a 500% surge in uptake over a few days in March.
Coronavirus testing kits
#9 Aytu BioScience
Aytu BioScience is a Colorado-based pharmaceutical company that has recently launched a rapid blood test that can detect COVID-19 antibodies in the blood within two to ten minutes. The Denver police department has already received the first shipment of 2,750 tests.
MiRXES is a Singapore-based biotech start-up. The company has announced that it has received Provisional Authorization from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) Singapore to supply the Fortitude Kit SARS-CoV-2 real-time RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. With technology licensed from Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) and the HSA Provisional Authorization, MiRXES becomes a legal product owner to manufacture and distribute the Fortitude Kit.
#11 Copan Diagnostics
Copan Diagnostics is a family-owned swab manufacturer located at the heart of Italy’s hard-hit Lombardy region. Although most companies in the region don’t operate due to the quarantine, the Italian government has allowed Copan Diagnostics to continue production. Now, its factory works 24/7 to produce products such as its CDC-recommended and patent-protected FLOQSwabs. Also, the company delivers testing swabs to the US. In general, The US Air Force has flown roughly a million coronavirus test swabs to the US from Italy to support domestic testing.
Codagenix is a healthcare technology company that develops vaccine products against influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, dengue virus, and others currently under development. Codagenix uses a computer-based algorithm, called SAVE (Synthetic Attenuated Virus Engineering) to design viral genomes that are identical to the wild type strain at the amino acid level, but make less protein in human cells. The company partnered with Serum Institute to jointly develop a live-attenuated vaccine to fight the coronavirus. It claims that the first vaccine undergoes a pre-clinical trial phase and can be market-ready by 2022.
#13 Sinovac Biotech
Sinovac Biotech is a Beijing-based biotech firm that focuses on the research, development, manufacture and commercialization of vaccines that protect against human infectious diseases. Recently, it has received approval from the Chinese government to begin human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine.
#14 SK Bioscience
SK Bioscience is a South Korean conglomerate’s pharmaceutical company, a part of SK Group. SK Bioscience claims that it has succeeded in discovering a vaccine candidate for COVID-19 and started the animal clinical trial of the candidate substance.
#15 Takis Biotech
Takis Biotech is an Italian startup which is developing a vaccine to fight COVID-19 with Stony Brook, New York-based Applied DNA Sciences. They plan to begin human trials before the end of the year. On April 10, the company announced positive results from animal trials for all five of its vaccine candidates.
The global coronavirus outbreak drives markets down. Some sectors feel a bit harder while others suffer less. Although the healthcare sector now has seen a surge in demand, it isn't immune to the coronavirus crisis.
Healthcare technology companies around the world are struggling to adapt their supply chains to increasing customers' needs, find skilled employees and reliable technology partners. Mature medical technology companies are likely to be faster in adapting to the new reality. Other healthcare technology companies experience harder times. Here we have outlined some of the top medical device companies that develop technology that helps tackle the COVID-19 crisis in their own countries.