The medical device outsourcing market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.2% over the next few years, reaching USD 227.1 billion in 2028. As the market continues to be fiercely competitive and medtech businesses adapt to the post-pandemic world, the outsourcing model is changing within the industry. While traditional outsourcing involved working with contract manufacturers and consulting firms, the availability of freelance on-demand experts has opened up new opportunities for recruitment within the industry.
The bulk of the innovation in the medical device industry happens in small and medium-sized businesses. In Europe alone, SMEs make up around 95% of the medical technology industry, the majority of which employ less than 50 people.
These companies do not have full-fledged in-house teams that can support all aspects of medical device development and launch. Hiring a consultant is an expensive affair: data from Glassdoor shows the salary range for a medical device consultant ranges between $60,000 to $80,000 per year.
With limited resources, it can be challenging for a small business to take a product to market quickly and easily. However, outsourcing specific steps in the product cycle to freelance experts can help them make the process easier. Medtech companies are increasingly outsourcing medical writing activities such as regulatory writing and grant writing to independent contractors. Data from freelance platform Kolabtree demonstrates a 50% spike in demand for freelance medical writers during the pandemic. Companies not only hired writers for help with EU MDR and ISO requirements but also consulted experts for support with content marketing and creative campaigns.
Security and confidentiality have always been core concerns in the medtech industry when it comes to outsourcing. However Kolabtree offers privacy protection by including IP protection as part of its T’s and C’s, giving clients full control over project visibility and having an in-built system for custom NDAs and agreements to be shared and signed.
Over the last two years, freelancing has grown by leaps and bounds across industries. Specialized talent is the need of the hour, and workers worldwide have started to look for better flexibility and freedom. This means that there is a huge pool of talent that businesses, especially SMEs can take advantage of.
The availability of on-demand remote talent also means that companies can now cut across geographical restrictions to access the best talent. This means that businesses can access the support they need for better innovation.
Take the case of US-based medtech company Aires Medical. They were looking to develop a new oxygen concentrator for COPD patients and needed to consult a materials researcher with expertise in working with zeolites. The founder, Nicholas Oddo, was able to search for and source a materials scientist with this niche expertise on Kolabtree. France-based Abhijeet Lale, who worked on the project, helped with the development of a suitable material processing method in just two weeks.
While the COVID-19 pandemic posed major manufacturing and supply chain challenges for the medtech industry, it also emphasized the need for new, innovative medical devices to be brought to market quickly.
Arianna Ferrini, biotechnologist and freelance medical writer at Kolabtree, transitioned to becoming a full-time freelancer during the pandemic. She says, “I only started freelancing during the pandemic, but I can already see that businesses are more willing to outsource projects to freelancers. I can see that in particular in the fields I work in, such as stem cell research, where companies are more willing to go online and try to find an expert who offers on-demand services. My perception is that it’s becoming apparent that freelancers have niche skills that are more cost-effective to outsource rather than build in-house, such as medical writing.”
During COVID-19, medtech companies that had invested in in-person events and conferences were forced to divert that budget elsewhere, which went towards digital marketing spends. McKinsey reports that in 2020, 84% of US medtech companies had shifted their budget to digital marketing, and a corresponding 77% European companies did so. As digital marketing is driven by content, it is no surprise, then, that many medical device firms are hiring freelance medical copywriters to create authoritative content that positions their product in the market.
From IQVIA to Eurofins Scientific, medtech companies worldwide are tapping into the benefits of outsourcing. The biggest benefits of outsourcing include faster time to market and less risk of product recall. Outsourcing offers access to specialists and industry experts who can be hired for specific projects or on an hourly basis. For SMEs this is crucial as this access to open talent gives them a chance to be on a level playing field as their more established competitors.