The healthcare industry has changed significantly over the past few years, with much of this affecting the medical supply niche. Companies, therefore, have been forced to adapt rapidly.
Several trends have influenced this, with some standouts looking to continue making an impact. This means that medical supply firms will have to look at the trends from the past months to help plan for their future growth.
Medical Supply Trends
While some of the trends may affect the industry in the short term, the majority will have long-term consequences. Both technology-related and non-tech-related trends have been making an increasing impact. Technology trends in particular are seeing such a large impact, they are being split into different categories. Below are the top trends to monitor:
The United States has been engaged in something of a trade war with various countries for the past several months. This has meant that several tariffs have been placed on products and materials on imports and exports.
While little of this has been directed toward the medical supply industry, most sectors have seen the effects. This has driven costs up, especially costs associated with production and development, leading to some companies looking to change strategies.
These tariffs show no sign of going away anytime soon. As a result, companies with an international presence will be increasingly affected, and their margins will show this clearly. While talks to reduce or remove tariffs are ongoing, management shouldn’t rely on this.
Increased Use Of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have enhanced various areas across the industry. Much of this has been seen in data collection both within and outside a company. For example, a medical supply company will see much more detailed and actionable insights into the market, which allows hospitals and medical supply firms to improve their current processes.
Alongside improved processes, AI will be able to fill the gap between information and its implementation. Using devices and products that connect using Bluetooth and to the internet, AI will continue to grow in the coming years. This results in more informed and reliable strategies that could reap dividends for most medical supply firms.
The supply chain is one of the most significant costs associated with the medical industry, with transportation playing a substantial role. Logistics medical supply firms are being established to keep up with the demand for on-demand freight. As more logistics medical supply firms open, the increased competition has led many companies to try to differentiate themselves. This trend allows hospitals to pick a cost-effective option and shop around for the logistics company that fits them best.
Traditionally, big data was solely the realm of large multinationals, although it has become increasingly accessible to most companies. There are a few advantages to this for medical suppliers, with enhanced supply chain management being one of the more prominent areas.
“Much of this is because big data can provide more informed analytics, which can be broken into several areas. This allows businesses to adjust their supply chain and better adapt to customer needs. As a result, there can be several cost benefits to the practice.” - Bill Ross, Founder, Linchpin SEO
Alongside this are better patient outcomes, leading to more efficient supplier-to-patient processes and a reduction in the amount of time it takes to manufacture and deliver products.
Orchestration is the system of consolidating a process or workflow through various means. This trend is one of the most significant in what it means for the medical supply field, by primarily using automation.
Automation has become significantly easier for many companies, especially for their traditional processes. The rapid advancements in technology allow for hospitals and medical supplies to automate their processes and implement orchestration faster than ever before. It also offers more cost-effective processes for every company involved, meaning this trend will be transforming the medical supplies industry for years to come.
The increased use of technology in the medical supply industry has meant that more technically skilled workers are needed. Finding workers specialized in the computer industry is not as common as the demand calls for. This means that many healthcare companies have employee shortages in key areas.
Due to this worker shortage, skilled employees in the tech field are about to demand high wages, thus driving up workforce costs. The worker shortage has also been seen with analytical skills related to big data. While some medical supply companies try outsourcing around this, it may not often be possible for some.
To find the right people, especially for those unable to outsource, hospitals and medical supply companies need to make themselves as appealing as possible to potential workers. The best ways to do this, include offering an attractive salary, considerable benefits, and training to any current employees to allow them to move up in their fields.
Rise Of Blockchain
Blockchain technology has become increasingly attractive to many supply companies, not just the medical niche. This is because it can offer more transparency across a firm’s supply chain management.
Businesses are seeing blockchain technology's transparency in a few ways, specifically in sourcing and tracking materials. While this is already an option for many medical supply firms, blockchain technology provides significant security and reliability in their supply chain.
This is driven by the fact that it cannot be tampered with, allowing companies to place much more trust in their supply chain. While this hasn’t impacted the medical supply industry yet, it’s one trend that looks to become much more common in the coming years.
Regulations have continued to evolve over the past few years, which is a trend that may continue in the future. While some of this is driven by changing market demands, much of it has been driven by technological advancements in the overall health industry.
Most of these laws have focused on privacy and the use of big data. As a result, medical supply companies and the healthcare field, in general, must become increasingly more accurate and reliable with how they manage this information.
While technology has been a critical driver in this legislation, it may also provide several solutions to these regulations. For example, enhanced cybersecurity and cloud-based software can have a prominent role in protecting customers, hospitals, and suppliers.
Though this requires more of an investment in technology, it mitigates the possibility of fines in the long term.
Internet of Medical Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been making a significant impact across almost every industry. The medical supply world is no exception to this, with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) becoming an increasingly common phrase.
There have been a few reasons for this, with its aim to improve health and safety at the forefront. More connected devices, such as powered carts, can help improve
Implementing IoT in the medical industry offers more than just improved health and safety of patients and staff. It also offers lowered costs in relation to labor and production mistakes. With the savings IoT brings, the extra budget can be used to increase the overall capacity to help patients for hospitals and offer better margins for suppliers.
There are a few areas, with labor and operations-related costs being more prominent. Alongside this is a reduction in repairs, as many advancements have made predictive maintenance increasingly common.
Much of this is seen through IoT-connected devices, as each will monitor their performance, which encourages a data-driven approach to repairs. This could prevent the need for much more extensive repairs in the future.
Medical Supplies Industry Stats and Growth Projections in 2023
Alongside each of the trends affecting the medical supply industry, there are a variety of statistics that many medical supply firms will want to be aware of. While many of these will be related to the various trends, many may not be. Regardless of this, every medical company should keep them in mind.
- The medical industry is set to grow 5% per year through 2024.
- Labor is the most significant cost associated with the industry, using 33% of most budgets.
- 85% of medical experts say reducing costs is a priority.
- The majority of suppliers, 88%, say analytics is a primary focus.
- Three-quarters of hospitals still use manual filing systems.
- Therapeutic devices hold a large share of the industry, a reported 90% in 2016.
- Medical supply wholesaling grew at 1.7% annually between 2012 and 2017.
- The U.S. market makes up 45% of the market per year.
- Almost 98% of the industry employs less than 100 people.
Being adequately informed about the industry can often be the key to success. By acknowledging and planning for each of the above trends, the majority of medical supply companies should be able to capitalize on them. Contact Altus today to learn more about how our mobile computer carts reflect technology trends and transform workflows.