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The Semiconductor Shortage and Its Effect on Healthcare

By: Renzo Guevara

medical staff in the healthcare industry

The tech industry has been on a lifeline since the pandemic hit in 2020. Semiconductor shortages have not been kind to everyone involved. Producers, consumers, retailers, and arguably more alarming, patients. 

Patients can’t get impatient.

The healthcare industry was unexpectedly slapped to the face by COVID-19. As much as we all think life sucks because we now have to work from home and are unable to come and eat or drink outside, we fail to see much more pressing problems.

What about the patients and the healthcare workers that deal with the damn virus themselves?

Hospitals are powered by technology. It ain’t the dark ages anymore, we actually have the equipment to deal with a pandemic this time. As cases grow each day, doctors and nurses are left to treat not only COVID-19 patients, but also any other sicknesses the world has already been dealing with for years.

Manpower is already shrinking due to burnout or the high risks of being a healthcare worker, and medical equipment is also becoming harder and harder to come by. Patients who are at critical states in need of treatments have no choice but to wait till supplies allow it. The world just can’t keep up with all of it.

Doc, we have a problem.

Semiconductor manufacturers are bombarded with orders from all sorts of industries. Almost every piece of technology in the world uses semiconductors. And oh my, who uses technology?

Everyone. Literally, everyone.

The medtech world is almost begging to be prioritized at this point. No one can argue that supplying a device that can potentially save a life is way more important than making another iPhone but it’s not like other industries should be neglected to meet the huge demand for healthcare. That would cause even more problems to the economy.

It’s not an easy conversation to have. The world needs tech more than ever. Everyone needs a phone, computer, internet, and home appliances because we’re all stuck inside. Do chip manufacturers cater to our needs so we can go on with our jobs or do they provide only to the medical side of things? There is no clear answer.

Get well soon, please.

Critical medtech devices such as defibrillators, peacemakers, ventilators, or anything that powers an ICU wing are gasping for air at this point. What used to be around a month or two dedicated to manufacturing chips has now escalated to 30-40 weeks.

We might have to strap in longer.

General Electric (GE) already warns that the shortage will last long into 2022 and even then, no guarantee that things will get any better at a significant rate. Here’s to hoping the world gets back on its feet sooner rather than later. Some lives really depend on it.

ALSO READ: The US Healthcare Narrative: Democrats vs Republicans

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