Lessons the Pandemic Taught: O&P Manufacturers Speak
January 06, 2021
In this month's issue of The O&P EDGE, the article "Creativity Under Pandemic Pressure" focuses on how O&P manufacturers adapted their methods to continue developing and delivering new products in 2020 and beyond. In this Online Exclusive, we share some takes about what they learned.
I could probably give a dissertation on how to conduct virtual meetings. I would just say that we've learned a lot in a short period of time about how to continue our business in a way that is productive and safe. And I'd urge all readers of the EDGE to continue to maintain vigilance and stay healthy and stay safe.
—Christopher J. Nolan, general manager, Ottobock North America
I think there will be a gradual return to normal, but digital interaction is going to be more important than ever. Being able to interact meaningfully, digitally and remotely, and facilitating that interaction, is going to be critical further on. By and large, everybody has adapted quite well, from a technological adoption standpoint, to remote meetings. It's been remarkable, really, how seamlessly the workplace has evolved into doing all our meetings virtually.
—Christian Robinson, executive vice president, ÖssurAmericas
I would circle back to the communications technology developments with Zoom and other like products where we have learned to stay connected with our customers a little differently, to observe social distancing while maintaining a high level of engagement. We've worked hard to try to create educational offerings as well as knowledge transfer situations to customers as readily as possible.
—Matt Swiggum, president and CEO, Proteor USA
Virtual progress exacts a personal toll: We get a great deal of benefit by going out and seeing, working, or interacting with people. I don't know that we've gotten a handle on that. After weeks of enforced isolation and virtual customer contact, one of our field reps returned to the field—and came back from his visits smiling from ear to ear, his face lit up, and exclaimed, "I forgot how much I needed this!"
—Ben Auzenne, vice president of sales and marketing Blatchford US
For me, something that was remarkable in this COVID situation was how across the industry, critical care providers, facilities, manufacturers, industry associations, trade organizations, and others across the spectrum pulled together to support each other with a spirit of cooperation. As soon as everybody realized how serious the situation was, there was an incredible reach out across the board—competition, customers, suppliers, vendors--to make sure that we were all supporting each other and helping out where we could.
Using our own experience in pulling our commercial team out of the everyday travel routine and providing them with tools to provide remote service through trials, service calls, troubleshooting, and fitting—we're looking at that as a model for the future. How do we transform our organization to be able to provide our experiences in customer interaction as opportunities for them to help their patients remotely?
—Christopher J. Nolan
It was just a heroic effort for all of these folks to make sure that their patients could receive care. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about clinicians going to someone's home—or meeting them elsewhere, innovating on the fly and creating a van where they could bring their supplies to provide services to someone out on the road, because they know [patients] needed it and they were a bit nervous. So this is a testament to the people that are passionate about patient care and that are here among us and that I'm proud to work with.
The social distancing, the wearing of PPE, the travel concerns—they will be present until a vaccine is readily available for a majority of the population. So I don't see that going away immediately. But what I do see and feel and hear is that we are becoming more comfortable with the precautions—and we will not, as a society, be caught unaware as we were back in March 2020.
—Christopher J. Nolan
Nobody wants to stay in this environment forever, but I think many are grateful for the lessons they've learned.