CPAP Manufacturing Companies Contribute to Global Defense Against COVID-19
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash
CPAP Manufacturing Companies Contribute to Global Defense Against COVID-19
While the President issued an order last week invoking the Defense Productions Act to limit the export of needed medical supplies in the U.S., major CPAP and ventilator manufacturers like ResMed and Philips Respironics were already a step ahead of him, working to end the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale and at the same time boosting production within the country to meet the needs of health providers everywhere. Companies are doing everything they can to supply the world’s increasing demand for quality respiratory equipment, including the proliferation of advanced technical capabilities for both in-home and hospital care, remote monitoring, and 24-hour customer support. While the COVID-19 crisis poses unprecedented challenges to health providers around the world, companies are contributing to the defense effort with multifaceted approaches that make use of every resource available to them.
Problems in the Supply Chain
Early on in the COVID-19 crisis, national health organizations worried about limited supplies and the effect it would have on economies already disrupted by the outbreak. The U.S. was one of many nations that lifted tariffs on crucial medical supplies in an effort to stockpile materials before it was too late, but demand skyrocketed in the following weeks. It wasn’t until this month, during drastic shortages of needed equipment such as masks and respirators, that President Trump took the next step of limiting exports. Using the Defense Productions Act, a 1950 law that gives the government more control over industries during national emergencies, the administration ordered top medical equipment and supply companies to give U.S. healthcare providers access to the products they need before making shipments overseas. While the order was an attempt to stop bidding wars between the states and other countries over desperately needed equipment and supplies, in many cases it was unnecessary or outdated, as many leaders in the industry had already moved to counteract the shortages and boost production to maximum capacity.
The Defense Productions Act
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) describes the Defense Productions Act as a “source of presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of resources from the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space, and homeland security programs." In other words, the act can be used to control the production of items needed to defend the country against threats. A recent Congressional Research Service report describes the DPA as a "broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense.” In the case of COVID-19, the act was used to protect American lives during a national emergency, but the industry in charge of producing the needed equipment and supplies had responded to the crisis long before the act was invoked.
Above and Beyond
While reducing exports could provide temporary benefits for those in need of equipment and supplies, it could also lead to negative effects on the supply chain in the long term, as the bidding wars could very easily escalate into full-scale trade wars with other nations. In such a case, the net number of needed products such as respirators would actually decrease within the country. To avoid this, companies looked beyond simple solutions to do much more than the president’s order set out to achieve.
ResMed, a company that manufactures ventilation equipment as well as CPAP, BiPAP, and ASV machines and accessories, published a statement in response to the DPA order, emphasizing their efforts to double or even triple production in defense of COVID-19 in the U.S. as well as the rest of the world. According to the statement, the company has increased its workforce to total over 7,500 workers in 140 countries, providing both products and services to health authorities, hospitals, physicians, and patients worldwide. “ResMed is pleased to see the White House prioritize access to critical ventilator components,” the statement read, “enabling not only ResMed but all industry-leading ventilator manufacturers to speed up both production and delivery of lifesaving devices to patients who need them most.”
Philips Respironics, another pioneer in medical technology, also responded to the president’s order, stating in a press release that they have already increased production of ventilators and plan to achieve a four-fold increase by the third quarter of 2020. “In line with Philips’ mission to improve people’s lives, we want to help as many healthcare providers as possible to deal with the growing numbers of critical COVID-19 patients,” said Frans van Houten, CEO of the Royal Philips company.
A Multifaceted Approach to the Global Pandemic
As leading manufacturers of PAP-therapy and ventilation equipment, both ResMed and Philips Respironics have shown support for making COVID-19 defense efforts a top priority in the United States, but as global companies they also strive to make a difference throughout the world, not only supplying the U.S. and other nations with important, life-saving equipment, but also increasing access to their services.
ResMed, for example, has launched a number of new services to help both patients and healthcare providers gain access to information about the COVID-19 pathogen and what it means for those with respiratory conditions. ResMed’s COVID-19 information page is a comprehensive list of resources that includes the most frequently asked questions about PAP-therapy, ventilation, and respiratory health concerns during the pandemic.
According to a statement published on the company website, ResMed’s primary focus during the COVID-19 pandemic is to “maximize the availability of ResMed ventilators and other respiratory support devices for the patients that need them most.” ResMed also provides cloud platform services through wireless capabilities in all of their PAP-therapy and respiratory machines, connecting over 100 million patients to their digital health network. This not only improves outcomes and reduces cost, but also allows ResMed products and services to be integrated into other systems around the world.
Philips has launched its own multifaceted approach to the crisis as well, broadening their services to help educate, treat, and protect those affected by the virus in the U.S. and around the world. Like ResMed, Philips has its own library of resources to help patients and providers access information quickly and easily, including the most relevant links to services, product information, government websites, and medical news outlets. In addition to boosting production of ventilators and other respiratory products, they offer full-time technical, sales, and product support via their customer service portal. In response to the pandemic, Philips has expedited its internal processes to prioritize those with urgent needs and ensure fast responses to customer inquiries. In addition, they have specialized in patient monitoring services with custom analytic performance dashboards, which can include COVID-19 specific data in addition to standard performance measures, for example, tracking systems for symptoms, vital sign changes, patient origin mapping, and trends.
Philips also offers bundled services for patient monitoring in the hospital or at home . In the hospital this would include IT infrastructure, workflow monitoring, and clinical decision support. For bedside and virtual care systems, bundles would include support for both critically ill intubated and critically ill non-intubated patients, as well as standard care for those without COVID-19 related health problems. Philips’ patient monitoring systems include the IntelliVue, Efficia, and EarlyVue product lines, all of which allow use of automated Early Warning Scoring (EWS) systems for rapid responses to medical emergencies or other areas of concern.
While all countries affected by the spread of COVID-19 illness struggle to keep up with the rising demand for essential medical supplies and equipment, many companies are doing what they can to meet those needs and improve the conditions of individuals fighting to survive the often devastating symptoms of this novel disease.
CDC.gov - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
CNBC.com - https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/03/coronavirus-trump-used-defense-production-act-on-these-companies-so-far.html
Federal Acquisition Service - Congressional Research Service Report - https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R43767.pdf
FEMA - https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/15666
The Intercept - https://theintercept.com/2020/04/01/coronavirus-medical-supplies-export/
National Academies Press - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525655/
New York Post - https://nypost.com/2020/03/22/coronavirus-in-ny-cuomo-calls-for-javits-center-hospitals-as-cases-hit-15168/
Philips Respironics - COVID-19 Announcement - https://www.usa.philips.com/healthcare/medical-specialties/covid-19#!
Philips Respironics - Support Library - https://www.usa.philips.com/healthcare/about/support-library#!
ResMed - COVID-19 Statement - https://newsroom.resmed.com/news-releases/news-details/2020/ResMed-Statement-on-COVID-19/default.aspx
ResMed DPA Statement - https://newsroom.resmed.com/news-releases/news-details/2020/ResMed-Statement-on-DPA/default.aspx
SCMP.com - https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3077118/coronavirus-trade-war-china-weakens-crucial-links-us-medical
Whitehouse.gov - https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/memorandum-order-defense-production-act-regarding-3m-company/