How COVID-19 triggered a boom in the homecare ventilator market
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India led to a medical infrastructure crisis and exposed the shortcomings in the country's healthcare system. One of the most obvious challenges was the lack of sufficient ventilators to cater for the substantial demand during the pandemic.
There were only a few ventilator manufacturers in India before the pandemic with an annual supply of only a limited or certain amount of ventilators. With increasing demand, more players kept joining and existing manufacturers ramped up their output as well.
By the end of 2021, India had a production capacity of 396,260 ventilators annually. From ICU, transport and emergency, and anaesthesia, to home care ventilators, there is a global increase in the demand for ventilators to support COVID-19 patients who cannot breathe on their own.
With the global home ventilator market projected to reach $6.6 billion in 2028, India is fast emerging as a third force behind North America/Europe and China/Japan in the production and supply of home ventilators, at an estimated CAGR of 8% between 2021 and 2027.
While home ventilation can be invasive and non-invasive, the choice of type, application, and supervision or non-supervision are determined by the technology adopted and knowledge of the caregiver.
Ventilators in the face of a global health crisis
Although global cases and hospitalisation have declined in recent months, the scare caused by the second wave of COVID-19 in 2021 seems valid. Deteriorating health conditions and lung disorders even among younger people led to an all-time high demand for ventilators in India.
A ventilator is simply a medical device that provides a patient with mechanical ventilation through the movement of breathable air in and out of the person's lungs.
This machine becomes important in COVID-19 patients because the virus primarily attacks the respiratory system and makes it difficult for them to breathe.
Such chronic respiratory failure and the need to declutter hospitals and health facilities make it necessary to deploy invasive and non-invasive ventilators in homecare settings. A tracheotomy tube is used in invasive options while a mask is the most common way of applying non-invasive ventilation.
Having this setup at home was an ideal solution for the health industry during the peak of the pandemic.
Home care ventilators (HCV) are available in India for COVID-19 patients that require long-term mechanical ventilation. A few Indian manufacturing companies have also begun the production of portable, toaster-size ventilators to aid mobility and self-use even at home.
Home ventilators make the demand for hospital beds less, making room for other people requiring on-site medical attention. By April 2021 when the second wave struck India, Parliament documents show the country had only 13,158 ventilators across the country. As in September 2021, that figure had risen to 33,024, according to reports.
Positioning for an innovation-driven future
It is important for home ventilators to be portable, easy to use and free of complexities to make remote and home use stress free and convenient. Therefore, ventilators need to be ergonomic and non-invasive as much as possible.
While it is important to adhere to standards and industry regulations in the manufacture of mechanical ventilators, there is also a need to ensure those who administer such ventilators are well trained. As many experts have suggested, there was an idle stock of ventilators in India during the second wave, in hospitals where there were no trained personnel to administer them. As the country beefs up production with new entries into the market, there's also need to beef up the manpower for effective utilisation and the best care possible.
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)