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Virtual Conferences And Wound Care - A New Normal?

Virtual Conferences and Wound Care – A New Normal?

Many aspects of life have changed this year and the big question that remains is when things will return to normal.  Increasingly though it is clear that some aspects of life will have a “new normal” and we won’t return to how things were before we all started to learn about wet markets and furlough schemes.  Last week I spent two days at the EWMA Virtual Conference to assess whether international conferences and the wound care market are likely to find their own new normal, and if so how that may look.

In previous years when preparing for EWMA I would have needed to organise and fund flights, transfers, hotels and source whichever local eatery sat nicely between the conference centre and my bed, never mind trying to get shirts and suits through Heathrow without needing to ring reception for an iron on arrival.  With this in mind it was refreshing to be able to have breakfast with my children, switch on my laptop and find myself at the opening presentations.  The success of a virtual event depends very much on the software platform, and I found the m-anage system very easy to navigate.  The sessions were easy to find and ran smoothly, and the ability to watch sessions that had been missed was a real bonus.  The exhibition area was easy to navigate and finding information was stress-free. However, it was a challenge to interact with a human and this may discourage industry from paying to exhibit in future.  I really valued the B2B Matchmaking portal, hosted by Brella where industry figures could contact each other directly to discuss commercial opportunities on an easy-to-use video call platform.  Although having said that, there was no escaping many of the issues that we have all become used to on video platforms such as mute buttons being on, technical challenges, and toddlers walking in.  All things considered, the functionality of the conference was a great success for me, and as I understand it, significantly superior to the equivalent system used at Medica.  As one has come to expect from EWMA, the scientific content was of a high standard, with a good mix of sessions in multiple languages.  The e-posters were easy to navigate and again had some excellent content within them.  So overall I would applaud the organisers at CAP Partners, EWMA and TVS for organising and facilitating the conference, and the speakers and exhibitors for adapting to the new format with such willingness.

Despite all of the positives it did feel that there were areas that can’t be accommodated virtually such as networking and atmosphere, and by the end of the conference this did feel noticeable.  So what does this mean for the future?  My view is that we will return to the more classic international conference format, but being mindful of cost and environmental factors, I would like to see how hybrid conferences could be accommodated, allowing those who can’t travel to attend virtually and receive the valuable content.

On to the wound care market.  Even prior to Covid-19 there were significant challenges in the market, with squeezed margins, crowded categories and challenging access.
Thankfully the companies that I spoke to had a sense of optimism and felt that the market held plenty of opportunities for them.  Across the scientific programme and the discussions that I had I noticed the following themes:

Biofilms

Biofilms were a big focus of the event.  Scientific programme content around testing, prevalence and treatment was fascinating and underlined how much research is being undertaken on the issue.  It was also noticeable how industry is looking to position both new and existing technologies of all kinds as being effective against biofilms.  With the biofilm market forecast to reach $2.4 billion by 2025 it is clear that whichever company successfully positions themselves as having the most clinically cost-effective and usable anti-biofilm technology will be in a very strong position.

Antimicrobial Stewardship

On a similar subject there was a significant focus on antimicrobial stewardship.  It will be very interesting to see how this impacts antimicrobial markets such as silver.  I believe that the combination of improved anti-biofilm technologies and pressure on antimicrobial usage could lead to a challenging future for silver; however, it is important to note that the global antimicrobial market continues to grow at a healthy 5% per annum.

New Technologies

It is always encouraging to see new technologies that could improve patient care enter the market.  I was very pleased to see some innovative debridement products as well some reasonably priced healing technologies.  A concern may be that some of the technologies appear more challenging to use than existing solutions, and as we have seen before strong evidence doesn’t necessarily lead to market share if the user finds the process complex or if ambulatory usage isn’t possible.

Western Europe

A number of companies are choosing not to enter the Western European markets.  This is primarily due to reimbursement and competition concerns, with Asia and emerging markets appearing more lucrative.  Perhaps once Covid-19 is over and the market landscape looks different, these countries may look more viable for all entrants.

In summary, wound care continues to be a potentially very lucrative market, forecast to be worth over $20 billion by 2028, but with many existing challenges being exacerbated by Covid-19 it may be a hard slog changing existing practice, particularly with disruptive technologies.  However, with many companies having made significant redundancies in their sales teams due to the pandemic there should be opportunities for companies able and willing to invest to take advantage of decreased competitor activity.

If you are a manufacturer who is aiming to grow your business within the wound care market, then please do speak to us at Taruna.  We operate a specialist channel which connects manufacturers to customers at a low variable rate without sacrificing ownership or visibility.

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