In the age of Covid-19, the global demand for ventilators has skyrocketed, as intensive care patients with severe forms of the disease struggle to breathe on their own. But many people with underlying respiratory conditions use ventilators every day, and the substantial threat Covid-19 poses to their health has left a lot of them under the strictest lockdown conditions.

In the UK, people with underlying conditions such as these have been advised not to leave their homes under any circumstances, and even to try and maintain two metres distance from members of their own household. Perhaps most crucially, this has prevented them from attending regular medical appointments to manage their condition, meaning long-term ventilator users have to start looking for remote care options.

ResMed responds to urgent Covid-19 needs

ResMed is a company that produces cloud-connected medical devices for people with respiratory conditions like sleep apnoea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Amid the pandemic there are many patients who rely on ResMed ventilators to assist their breathing every day and require regular check-ups and support in hospitals or through home care.

In response to this, the company has now accelerated the European launch of cloud-based remote monitoring software for ventilators and Lumis bilevel devices, via its AirView platform. This is expected to allow long-term ventilator users across the continent to maintain their care by having their condition monitored remotely.

Currently, the company already has more than 12 million patients connected to its AirView monitoring system. With AirView, clinicians can remotely monitor their patients’ respiratory rate and blood oxygen saturation to track changes in their condition, enabling remote care for long-term ventilator users. The platform can work via a connectivity module with any Stellar or Astral ventilator in Europe, and Lumis bilevel devices have a built-in AirView Connection. When it comes to Lumis, AirView also allows clinicians to change some device settings remotely.

ResMed UK and Ireland country manager Antoine Valterio says: “AirView for ventilation is basically an update on the AirView system, designed specifically to enable clinicians and care providers to securely review a patient’s ventilation therapy parameters, either via a computer or via an app.

“We felt that during the Covid-19 crisis it’s particularly important to ensure that patients who are on ventilators at home and require regular check-ups had a way to get the care they needed, while ensuring that both the medical professional and the patients remain safe.”

What does the future look like for ResMed?

Alongside this development, ResMed has been working with the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the NHS to supply them with ventilators for Covid-19 patients.

“We had to significantly ramp up our ventilator production,” Valterio says. “We enabled that work over the last couple of months to triple the manufacturing of our ventilators and increase the manufacturing of ventilator masks tenfold.

“That increase has enabled us to ensure we could deliver thousands of these products to the NHS.”

However, as the pandemic continues, it’s fair to say ResMed has some concerns about the coming year, with the potential for difficult times on the horizon. As hospitals begin to focus on Covid-19, there’s a chance there might not be the same number of patients diagnosed with the conditions ResMed typically makes products to treat, potential impacting its sales volumes.

Valterio says: “Covid-19 hasn’t materially impacted us yet, but it’s fair to concede moving forward there could be a slowdown to our business.”

That said, the uptake of telemedicine is surging in response to the crisis. The global telehealth market is now projected to be worth $55.6bn by 2025, compared to the $25.6bn it is worth today, at a global compound annual growth rate of nearly 17% over the next five years.

While it’s difficult to provide a patient with a ventilator for a diagnosis they can’t currently receive, ResMed could start to lean more heavily on the remote healthcare branch of its business over the coming months.

“In the NHS Long-Term Plan, the government and the NHS have a very strong remit to look at digitisation of healthcare services, and I think this is going to continue to happen,” says Valterio. “I think what we have seen from the crisis is probably an exploration of that, and an uptake of technologies that are very much in line with where the NHS is trying to go.”