How medtechs are navigating the sales environment through the pandemic

Adeline Kon/MedTech Dive

Note from the editor

Like nearly every industry across the globe, the medtech sector is still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on 2020 sales. The impact was far from even, given the diversity of companies in the space — from those that make heart valves to artificial hips and knees to robotics to point of care testing.

When CMS in mid-March 2020 advised hospitals to all but halt non-emergency procedures, those firms especially reliant on elective surgeries like Boston Scientific and Stryker saw steep declines in demand. After some stabilization, the holidays, new virus variants and regional resurgence brought ups and downs throughout last year.

The story was different for testing companies that pivoted to either making or processing COVID-19 diagnostics. Once-struggling Quidel saw its fortunes buoyed by demand for its antigen tests, as did Abbott, Roche, Becton Dickinson and other bigger medtechs that jumped into the COVID-19 testing space.  Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp also saw a deluge in demand.

With the new year, these trends moved in different directions.

Quidel was among the first to warn the rollout of vaccines and other factors would lead demand to plunge in February and March. Similarly, Abbott saw demand fall for its coronavirus diagnostics in the first quarter on 2021, after riding a wave of COVID-19 testing throughout the year.

For device makers waiting in the wings for elective procedures to return, the situation has improved. Johnson & Johnson, Edwards Lifesciences and Intuitive Surgical in April all reported a rebound in elective care, spurring hope that the brunt of the pandemic is in the rear view mirror.

Executives, though, know they can’t count on certainty when it comes to the coronavirus, given the regional surges and variants that have thrown a wrench into prior forecasts.

With the onslaught of the delta variant, some hospitals and other facilities in hard hit spots are once again becoming overwhelmed, and elective procedure-reliant medtechs have felt a pinch this summer. In turn, demand for testing is increasing by some accounts.

While the big device companies say this time will be different, the pandemic has taught many that unpredictability is one thing that can be counted on. 

Kim Dixon Lead Editor

Medtechs made it out of Q2 with minimal impact from delta. That could change in Q3.

Procedure-dependent companies reported little to no impact from the variant in the second quarter. But rising COVID-19 cases and elective shutdowns pose a risk in the second half of the year.

• Published Aug. 26, 2021

Medtronic starts FY22 with electives boost, but delta hits in summer months

• Published Aug. 24, 2021 • Updated Aug. 25, 2021

As Stryker boosted by electives comeback, CEO downplays delta variant risk to procedures

• Published July 28, 2021

J&J returns to growth in Q1 as elective care rebounds in US, Asia-Pacific

• Published April 20, 2021

Intuitive sees Q1 robot rebound in turnabout from start of year

• Published April 21, 2021

ASCs gave medtechs alternate care sites amid pandemic hospital elective shutdown

After surgeries moved from hospitals to ambulatory surgery centers during the pandemic's upending of elective care, experts and industry believe some procedures may never go back.

• Published March 19, 2021

All eyes on elective care after a rollercoaster year for medtech

After the shutdown of elective care slammed procedure-dependent medtechs in 2020, industry and Wall Street are waiting to see when exactly surgeries return and what a comeback might look like.

• Published March 16, 2021

Robotics demand held firm as pandemic pummeled electives

Intuitive Surgical, Stryker and Zimmer Biomet all saw procedure volumes drop in 2020 as electives shut down. However, system demand remained strong despite the financial hit to hospitals.

• Published March 18, 2021

Quest Q1 revenue jumps 49% even as COVID-19 test demand wanes

• Published April 22, 2021

Edwards withstands winter lows, grows Q1 sales on electives recovery

• Published April 21, 2021

Abbott misses Wall Street as COVID-19 test sales softer than expected

• Published April 20, 2021

How medtechs will navigate the sales environment post-pandemic

Like nearly every industry across the globe, the medtech sector is still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on 2020 sales. The impact was far from even, given the diversity of companies in the space — from those that make heart valves to artificial hips and knees to robotics to point of care testing.

included in this trendline
  • J&J returns to growth in Q1 as elective care rebounds in US, Asia-Pacific
  • Intuitive sees Q1 robot rebound in turnabout from start of year
  • Quest Q1 revenue jumps 49% even as COVID-19 test demand wanes
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.