2022 Market Trends and Predictions: Healthcare

January 11, 2022 • Posted in Market Insights

At the turn of each year, M. Holland’s market managers take time to reflect on major events of the past year and the trends for the upcoming year. In this first installment of our 2022 market trends and predictions series, we spoke with M. Holland’s Global Healthcare Manager, Josh Blackmore, who saw 2021 bring some big swings to the healthcare and medical device market, including heightened innovation, market consolidation and supply chain woes. But what Josh is most looking forward to is the smarter, safer, greener and more efficient healthcare and medical device market of the future.

Of all the healthcare market developments in 2021, Josh notes an increase in robotic surgeries, market consolidation, and accelerated investments in the healthcare and medical device space as the most promising for the plastics industry. In 2021, the number of robotic procedures grew as more applications for robotic medical technology received FDA approval and as patients returned to doctors’ offices for non-essential surgeries that were postponed during the pandemic. Robotic surgeries are minimally invasive, which reduces overall damage to the body, allow for faster recovery, and can lengthen surgeons’ careers by easing wear and tear on their bodies. For robotic machinery to work properly, both the software and hardware need to be best in class. To be competitive, larger medical OEMs have started acquiring smaller robotics companies and striking deals with software giants to improve their technology. Josh anticipates this trend will continue, which suggests growth for the plastics market for robotic capital equipment and the single use surgical tools used by the robotic hands. Plastics are often the material of choice for medical robotics device companies because of flame-retardant properties and the ability to withstand hospital-grade disinfectants.

Looking forward to 2022, Josh expects that supply chain constraints of the past two years will continue. To cope with challenges related to shipping delays, lack of materials availability, and manufacturing disruptions, and to introduce greater supply chain stability and reliability, he expects more medical OEMs to move device and PPE production back to America. In fact, several medical OEMs are already in the process of building new factories now. He also expects many manufacturers to continue to demand more transparency from their vendors. Common questions in 2021 that are likely to make their way into 2022 and beyond include: What resin is suitable for the task — is it globally available and is it likely to stock out or be discontinued? What materials are made to stock? How much material is being stored, and where? Transparency and reliability are often more important than price for many manufacturers. Because of this, Josh anticipates that distribution partners will continue to play a crucial role in improving supply chain security moving forward.

Josh’s other predictions for 2022 include a greater push for chronic illness management through digitally connected wearables, more sustainable materials in healthcare and growth in areas such as vaccine research, all of which provide opportunities for plastics materials to shine.

  • Digitally Connected Wearables: Glucose monitors, insulin pumps, blood pressure monitoring, cancer marker tracking and mental health resources continue to get more sophisticated, and plastics materials are advancing to meet new demands. Connected wirelessly to a patient’s phone or laptop and sometimes transmitted directly to a doctor’s office, these devices and the materials used to make them must withstand a wide range of temperatures, house smart electronics and tolerate a variety of chemicals.   
  • Sustainability: Looking at creative ways to create closed loop solutions will open new doors to recycling and reusing medical plastics. Medical and pharmaceutical packaging is the easiest place for healthcare companies to drive sustainability. Many medical devices are considered infectious waste and are restricted to incineration, which limits reuse but can support cogeneration of energy. New renewable areas like bioplastics are evolving to meet the needs of a specialized circular economy in healthcare.  
  • Vaccine Research: Vaccine research requires plastic resins at every stage — everything from the growing, harvesting and studying of viruses to packaging vaccines and administering doses. As medical research advances, the plastics industry will play an important role in providing solutions that reduce waste, reducing bioburden levels, and in safely delivering vaccines.

The growth and technological advancements in the healthcare and medical device market show no signs of stopping, and Josh predicts that each year, medical devices will continue to become smarter, safer, greener and more efficient — a trend that M. Holland is prepared to support.

Share your 2021 observations and tell us what your 2022 predictions are on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn using #MH2022PredictionsSeries.

Featuring:

Josh Blackmore

Global Healthcare Manager

Josh Blackmore M. Holland Plastic Resin Distributor

Josh Blackmore serves as the Global Healthcare Manager for M. Holland. In this role, he is responsible for implementing a strategic global plan to establish M. Holland as a leader in the healthcare segment, developing the medical sales team and managing the global project pipeline. He focuses on expanding targeted services for healthcare clients by providing guidance on how medical grade plastics meet device needs and comply with regulatory testing. Josh came to M. Holland from RTP Company where he was the global healthcare manager for more than 13 years. He has also held positions at GE and The Dow Chemical Company. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology from Michigan State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

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