Shortage of Semiconductor Chips Puts Patients At Risk: What’s The Way Forward?

Semiconductors are critical components in a wide range of consumer electronic gadgets, as well as those used by enterprises that are increasingly reliant on digital technologies. During the forecast period, the semiconductor market in healthcare is expected to develop at a CAGR of approximately 10.2%. (2021 – 2026). However, there has been a global scarcity of semiconductors in recent months, which Deloitte predicts will endure through 2022 and possibly longer.

The use of semiconductor electronics in medical/healthcare applications is becoming more common, with a focus on patient centricity. “Semiconductors are critical to several key health technologies,” Kendall-Windless added. “Ventilators and Defibrillators are examples, as are imaging equipment, glucose, ECG, EEG, and blood-pressure monitors, as well as implantable pacemakers.”

Millions of patients who rely on components and systems that use these microchips may be at risk. Moreover, if the shortage persists, it will be difficult for healthcare professionals to mend old infrastructure or procure additional equipment to meet a health need, such as the need for more ventilators to respond to the upcoming wave of Covid-19 (XE Variant).

The shortfall in semiconductor production impacting India’s healthcare technology sector

The chip scarcity isn’t limited to a single type of gadget or manufacturer. For the hundreds of diagnostics, medicines, and capital-equipment companies that develop key medical technology, it’s becoming an acute, industry-wide issue. In 2019, overall medical semiconductor sales were $5.1 billion, accounting for around 1% of the $415 billion global semiconductor market.

Here are a few of my research’s most important key points.

  • In their gadgets, over two-thirds of healthcare companies use semiconductors and embedded software.
  • MedTech is in direct competition with the automotive, industrial, and consumer industries due to the high need for second and third-generation chips.
  • Order cancellation, short orders, and delays are the most prevalent supply chain disruptions.

What’s the way forward? What does the future hold for Indian healthcare?

By 2025, India’s semiconductor consumption is estimated to reach $100 billion (Rs. 7.5 lakh crore), up from roughly $24 billion (Rs. 1.8 lakh crore) today. Semiconductors are used in almost every medical gadget that works on electricity or batteries. The shortage of semiconductors has hampered critical care because they are utilised in mobile ultrasound devices, ventilators, MRI, pacemakers, blood pressure monitors, and bedside patient monitoring, among other things. They’re also important for telehealth and devices, which have an impact on rural healthcare and eldercare.

Experts believe that the shortage will last for a long time because semiconductor reliance is currently focused in a few countries, and establishing a manufacturing unit is a herculean task due to multiple constraints such as the need for big investments, high operational costs, and uninterruptible electricity supply, among others.

“Because the semiconductor industry supply chain is a worldwide process, becoming self-sufficient in this field is extremely challenging for a country or region.” As a result, the length and severity of this problem will be determined by how well we manage this crisis and how we focus on vital items for chip supply.”

India and Taiwan have just joined forces and are aiming to sign a $7.5 billion preferential trade pact. As the Indian government is working on a multibillion-dollar package through the PLI plan to stimulate semiconductor production in India. India can seek to be a chip centre in the future if it imports enough and promotes in-house manufacture.

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