It's 2023, Remain Seated and Don't Touch Anything

Why our senior editor is more cautious than optimistic about the new year.

Amanda Pedersen

January 9, 2023

3 Min Read
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I've always loved the feeling of a fresh start that comes with a new year. But these past three years haven't exactly been the Roaring '20s we had hoped for.

Last year was especially rough for my family, although there were valuable lessons to be learned along the way, such as not to cry over spilled urine.

Looking at 2022 through a medtech lens doesn't improve the optics much. Most of the industry faced a perfect storm of headwinds stemming from supply chain disruptions, inflation, staffing challenges, foreign exchange rates, not to mention widespread increases of Covid/RSV/flu cases.

So, I can't help feeling some trepidation as we begin 2023. Instead of making resolutions in the spirit of conquering the year ahead, I've just been tiptoeing into 2023 trying not to touch anything. I keep hearing amusement park-style warnings in my head telling me to remain seated and keep my arms and legs inside the vehicle.

Not everyone is as pessimistic about the new year as I am. Ryan Zimmerman, a medtech analyst at BTIG, served up a few bite-sized samples of optimism for 2023 in a report last month.

"Why does 2023 get better? Lower oil prices, improving inflation, strong employment, and improving procedure recovery are the basis for a better outlook in medtech," Zimmerman wrote.

But even Zimmerman's thoughts on medtech in the year ahead included headwinds like staffing and a divided Congress (he noted that medtech has historically underperformed in these environments). He views supply chain as neutral and notes that it appears to be improving.

"We view companies with strong fundamentals, defendable moats, and significant product cycles as best positioned in FY23 to outperform," Zimmerman wrote.

Other industry experts MD+DI consulted for 2023 medtech predictions were less optimistic about the supply chain improving.

Hospitals will likely continue to face challenges with staffing and the unpredictability of Covid-19 and other upper respiratory viruses, which will create obstacles for resource allocation, according to Jaime Wong, senior medical officer at Intuitive Surgical.

Wong did manage to spin some optimism into his forecast, however, noting that these pain points provide opportunities for medtech to introduce solutions.

"Intuitive wants to offer solutions in these areas to help customers improve workflow to staff robotic-assisted procedures, and analytics that generate actionable insights to help customers care for more patients effectively,” Wong said. “As part of that, we understand that it takes much more than a robot. We provide an ecosystem of support, from technology training to system support to clinical research into new procedure opportunities.”

I wish I could be more like Wong. There was a time when I too would have latched onto the brighter side of all these macroeconomic challenges impacting the industry. But I just can't bring myself to be that hopeful this year. At this point, writing even the tiniest nugget of optimism feels like a jinx.

So, I'll leave the positive outlooks for people like Wong and Zimmerman. Meanwhile, I'm just going to buckle up for the ride and keep my arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.

Pedersen's POV publishes every Monday. You may reach her at [email protected] (please put “POV” in the subject line).

About the Author(s)

Amanda Pedersen

Amanda Pedersen is a veteran journalist and award-winning columnist with a passion for helping medical device professionals connect the dots between the medtech news of the day and the bigger picture. She has been covering the medtech industry since 2006.

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