The COVID-19 pandemic put the medical device industry front and center, especially with the demand for essential products like diagnostic tests, ventilators, and respiratory assistant devices.
Unlike other industries, where service demand dropped for a year or more, most service organizations that maintain or repair medical devices did not see a slowdown. They, more than any other industry, either maintained pre-pandemic service levels — or saw an increasing demand and service requests for everything from scheduled maintenance to repair. The data shows that the medical device service industry had a 6% increase in technicians and a 2.5% increase in field events.
However, many companies still faced significant challenges this year. More-tenured technicians retired faster than their replacements could enter the workforce, even with the uptick in hiring. Technicians completed 3.3% fewer work orders overall, signaling that organizations struggled to upskill less-experienced workers quickly. While service costs across the industry were down by nearly 4%, in the bottom 20% of medical device service companies, the knowledge gap between the most- and least-skilled technicians cost over 200% more.
Top medical device service companies had key patterns in common. For one, they made more accurate fixes on the first try, resulting in over a 4.5% increase in First Time Fix Rates. They also provided more remote and simple fix-it-yourself options, leading to a 34% increase in Time Between Visits.
Those improvements in critical metrics can be credited to the sum of smallbut-mighty, purposeful, and consistent service habits. This included utilizing AI and predictive technology models to glean insights and make critical business decisions quickly. AI also allowed them to provide more resources for technicians. Top-performing organizations upskilled technicians more rapidly and were able to successfully distribute knowledge on demand to technicians on-site or off.
Successful organizations also used AI to optimize customer service journeys. AI offered personalized recommendations that were used to power other critical channels, like call centers and chatbots. It minimized downtime and created a unique, memorable, and flourishing service culture that prioritized customers — no matter what issues they needed help with.
According to a recent Salesforce report, nearly 80% of high-performing field service organizations use AI to drive productivity, cost savings, better employee experiences, and more.