ResMed, the owner of MatrixCare, plans to at least double its production of ventilators to help address international equipment shortages during the coronavirus crisis.
The company has long made sleep apnea machines and ventilators for home and hospital — many of them digital, enabling physicians and respiratory specialists to remotely monitor patients.
“There could not be a clearer case for the use of digital health and remote monitoring of patients than this current crisis with a virus that is so contagious stemming from direct human contact,” Chief Executive Michael “Mick” Farrell said in a press release. “We are working with governments, health authorities, hospitals, physicians and patients worldwide to assess their needs, and to deliver the ventilation therapy that is essential to treat the respiratory complications of COVID-19. Our primary focus is to maximize the availability of ResMed ventilators and other respiratory support devices for the patients that need them most.”
Farrell told the San Diego Tribune some production lines at factories in Singapore and Australia have switched away from sleep apnea devices to make ventilators. Now that cases have slowed in China, ResMed is shifting its focus to Europe and the U.S., but Farrell declined to say exactly how many ventilators ResMed will make.
Ford Motor Company announced March 24 that it would partner with GE Healthcare to expand production of a simplified ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing (in addition to working with 3M to manufacture Powered Air-Purifying Respirators and assemble more than 100,000 critically needed plastic face shields per week).
President Donald Trump last week also tapped the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to make more ventilators, though the president also questioned whether they would be needed.
Farrell said his company would work with officials “to understand the current, urgent needs of patients who will literally be dying if they don’t get a ventilator, and we are going to focus on that urgent patient need for the next two to four weeks.”
Farrell said ResMed, Medtronic and other ventilator makers will be able to produce enough new machines to meet demand COVID-19-related demand if citizens continue following social distancing recommendations. The biggest challenge, he told the San Diego newspaper, is not manufacturing speed but lack of supplies including O-rings, lithium-ion batteries and processor chips.
“The limiting step here is not final manufacturing,” he said. “We are good at that. We can scale that. The limiting step is component supply.”
Still, the company has already begun delivering additional machines to hard-hit parts of California.