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The COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on medical device companies, which acted quickly to keep important work moving amid the demands of the pandemic. Despite the chaos, the industry had a record year – the FDA recently announced it approved, cleared, or authorized 132 novel medical devices in 2020, surpassing the previous high mark the agency set in 2018.

That medical device teams found a way to continue innovating during so much disruption speaks to their agility and resilience – and perhaps provides a glimpse into how the crisis will chart a path for the future of virtual work in the medical device world.

How will virtual engagement continue delivering value to medical device teams?

Like industries from banking and tech to retail and manufacturing, medical device organizations accomplished many of their COVID-era achievements by adopting virtual tools that kept them engaged and aligned with colleagues, sales reps, patients, and HCPs. As in-person meetings become possible again, the benefits realized through virtual interaction mean that a substantial portion of medical device work may remain virtual long after the pandemic recedes.

Asynchronous virtual engagement – online collaboration sessions held over a period of days or weeks – overcomes a number of obstacles common to in-person settings, such as language barriers, dominant personalities, hierarchy influence, and extensive (and sometimes haphazard) follow-up.

Programs conducted in an over-time, hybrid environment excel in overcoming those obstacles, and 2020 was a watershed moment for organizations that were previously resistant to adding virtual engagement to their business strategy. While video conference platforms provided the basic ability to interact, uptake of asynchronous platforms like Within3 – offering language translation, autosave, document collaboration, multiple question types, polling, and medical dictation – enabled teams to experience a new level of collaboration in a virtual setting.

In the real world: bringing products to market faster

For some organizations, the benefits of over-time virtual engagement were apparent not only in the ability to keep work moving but in how much that work was accelerated, even under challenging circumstances. One medical device team recently discovered that a single virtual advisory board on our platform moved their work much further along than they expected.

The team held a three-week asynchronous session following a live 30-minute webcast, with questions divided into five different focus areas. Nine KOLs provided nearly 400 responses, and due to the quality and volume of feedback, the medical device team was able to move their project forward by leaps rather than steps.

Thanks in large part to the focus enabled by the asynchronous platform, the KOLs became passionate about the project over the course of the meeting. Rather than planning subsequent advisory boards – as they might have done after a face-to-face meeting – the team quickly shifted course to advance the project to its next stage.

With the ability to pare many meetings down to one, the team saved time, reduced costs, and changed the product development pathway – but more importantly, increased the potential benefit to HCPs and patients.

Medtech and medical device innovators showed remarkable resilience in a time of unprecedented disruption to the industry’s status quo. Teams that include virtual engagement in their 2021 strategy stand to increase the depth and breadth of insights and gain competitive advantage – all while getting life-changing devices to market more efficiently.

To understand more about how the pandemic’s effects will impact medical device virtual engagement and get our top recommendations for building a competitive edge, download the 2021 Medical Device Virtual Engagement Field Guide.

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