Last week, Principal James Wilson participated in a MedCity News Google hangout that focused on the development and innovation of medical devices. The panel of experts discussed the inventive products that they had personally developed as well as the landscape of the medical device industry (particularly in light of the struggle to eliminate the medical device tax).
Kicking off the discussion, Dr. Jerome Canady presented his work on the Canady Hybrid Plasma™ Scalpel—a tool that cuts tissue at the same time as it cauterizes blood vessels, reducing blood loss and even patient recovery time. The scalpel allows for surgeons to operate on difficult tumors that previously may have been deemed inoperable.
Next, Dr. Julia White presented her work on breast radiotherapy that greatly reduces the negative effects the treatment may have on the heart and lungs. Working with Qfix, Dr. White is developing a board for prone radiation therapy that improves the probability of positive patient outcomes and lessens long term effects. She noted, “[The board] makes a much easier target for us from radiotherapy so we can encompass the breast and stay out of the chest wall.” Dr. White also highlighted the importance of positive cosmetic outcomes for breast cancer patients and how the device will improve that aspect of healing as well.
Another device that delivers targeted therapy is the PROPEL implant, which treats chronic sinusitis. Susan Stimson, VP of marketing at Intersect ENT, explained that the product mechanically props open the sinus cavity and provides a sustained release of medicine to control inflammation over a period of 30 days before eventually dissolving. The device aims to reduce the common scarring and inflammation that occurs after surgery that can even eventually lead to revision surgery.
Finally, James Wilson examined the role of design in healthcare, specifically tied to our work related to diabetes. Continuum partnered with Jana Care, a high-growth startup based in Bangalore, India, to develop a smartphone-based glucometer test strip that links a smartphone app to their planned coaching and support system. What was unique about this particular project was that it aimed to address the emerging middle class in India, bringing a solution that would be relevant to them. James noted that the focus was on “bring[ing] technology and diabetes support to that market rather than first focusing on a first-world solution.”
Looking forward into 2015, James predicted healthcare’s next goal will be to realize and implement data and algorithms into an effective model. For the future, Dr. White asked the important question, “how do we want to treat the next generation?” While Susan Stimson noted the goal of expanding PROPEL’s commercial efforts, Dr. Canady forecasted smaller plasma products and integrated robotics.
Overall, the conversation was both enlightening and impressive—thanks to MedCity News and editor in chief Veronica Combs for pulling this panel together and facilitating a great discussion. Surgeons, entrepreneurs, and designers play interconnected and important roles in the development of medical devices and their insights are crucial to maintaining and improving positive patient outcomes.