Jon Speer, Greenlight Guru

Best Practices for Leading Medical Device Teams During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Jon Speer
Jon Speer, Greenlight Guru

As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for medical device leaders to navigate the arising challenges and prepare for the future.

The current state of the world has created challenges for nearly every industry, and the medical device landscape is no exception. As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for medical device leaders to navigate the arising challenges and prepare for the future.

In my current position, I have experienced this firsthand. The medtech industry is racing toward innovation to create the necessary technology to fight the virus both now and for years to come. While medical device companies are answering the call and acting as part of the solution, it’s a role that will be incredibly challenging to manage.

While I firmly believe the key to navigating this evolving landscape is putting quality at the forefront of all activities, a function made seamless through best of breed quality management tools, I was curious what other industry leaders had to say.

Prior to the The Greenlight Guru True Quality Virtual Summit, we asked the top medtech experts presenting at the virtual event to share their actionable insights to help the industry navigate the uncertainty with confidence. The following are some of their best tips for effectively leading and managing teams during the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing your organization for what’s to come.

Remain connected with your team

“Communicate often! Let your people know where things stand with the business. Meet a ton via online tools – as it is a connection that keeps us all engaged. With everyone at home, each of your workers will be dealing with different issues, both private and professional. The distributed workforce requires even more touchpoints to help people stay connected.” — Dan Purvis, CEO and Co-Founder, Velentium

Keep meetings efficient

“Balance your communications. Working remotely brings special challenges that make meetings more difficult, so focus on efficiency in meetings to ensure your team still has time to do their work and manage their situation at home.” — Katie Mowery, Sr. Human Factors Specialist, Priority Designs

Manage your expectations

“I always say that conflict arises from violated expectations. Therefore, manage your expectations as a leader, and be clear about your expectations of your team during these challenging times. The last thing you want to do is have misunderstandings or conflicts within your team when working well together/apart is so critical.” — Allison Komiyama, Owner and Principal Consultant, Acknowledge Regulatory Strategies

Focus on transparency and communication
“Leadership needs to provide regular communication, be transparent about the impact of the pandemic on your company, and set expectations with your team, investors, partners and customers. There is a great deal of uncertainty in the world, and clarity from management is one of the keys to a healthy organization.” — Paul Grand, CEO, MedTech Innovator

Be mindful of mental well-being

“It is crucial for leaders to recognize that it is difficult to expect their teams to give their absolute best at all times in a state of distress for their family’s well-being. Personally, I believe the key purpose of a leader is to continuously motivate and support a team, empowering them to deliver their best work while being absolutely empathetic towards challenges in their life. During the pandemic and in the months following, it’s imperative that leaders are consistently transparent, communicative and responsive to their team. It is paramount that we prioritize the work-family balance, as well as the mental and physical health of an employee. Included in arrangements likely to produce effective and efficient work-life structures is showing unwavering trust, supporting flexible working arrangements, and vocalizing empathy when it comes to compounding responsibilities, such as caring for children or elderly family members.” — Amishi Vairagade, CSPO, Azzur Group

Stay focused on the future

“Remain focused on the fact that this is temporary. The natural instinct may be to slow down and withdraw resources. Instead, this is an excellent time to strategically plan and dedicate time, staff and resources to ensuring that the post-pandemic time capitalizes on key changes in healthcare.” — Richard Charter, VP of MedTech Market Access, Europe & Asia-Pacific, Alira Health

Be cognizant of stakeholders

“Be cognizant of the impact on all stakeholders as a major disruption to workflow, patient flow and utilization is occurring. In large part, this will be very temporary, while in some instances, the delivery of care and sites of service will shift in response.” — David Uffer, Sr. Partner, VP of MedTech, Alira Health

Take care of your people

“Don’t forget your most precious asset — people, people, people. We are all going to face many business challenges in light of the pandemic — but the organizations that holistically consider how they are impacting people, both their patients and their staff and teams, are most likely to effectively navigate these circumstances.” — George Zack, Principal & Co-founder, Two Harbors Consulting

Be sensitive to personal situations

“The first thing I would say is to be sensitive to employees’ personal situations. You have to run a business obviously but it doesn’t mean you can’t work with each employee to meet the needs of themselves and their family and still provide what is needed at work. Review goals and when needed realign expectations to match current circumstances.” — Todd Hillam, Sr. Scientist, Nelson Labs

Be nimble and creative with research methods

“From a human factors research perspective, it is important to stay flexible with the research methods you use. But with that flexibility comes the need to understand where you can afford to bend without breaking. Just because you can’t conduct research the way you always have doesn’t mean you can’t conduct research at all, and just because you can conduct research a different way doesn’t mean you should. Understanding the pros and cons of each method and their overall ability to contribute to your research goal is critical to conducting meaningful and useful research.” — Colton Turner, Sr. Human Factors Specialist, Priority Designs

Exercise True Quality practices

“I think this pandemic really reinforces how critical the need for quality practices throughout your company and supply chain really is. The demand for medical devices and related items for COVID-19 has shown that a lack of quality can directly impact the front-line workers using these tools. Maintaining a strong emphasis on quality from early design control through post-market surveillance is critical for all device companies now more than ever.” — Kyle Rose, President, Rook Quality Systems

Final Thoughts

All organizations are working to lead their teams through today’s unique challenges with confidence. By keeping quality at the center of your strategy as a catalyst for improving teamwork collaboration, communication, and transparency, the medical device industry will find success and be ready for any new challenge that’s to come.

About The Author

Jon Speer, Greenlight Guru