Archive for May, 2012



Some Thoughts from 2012 AusMedTech Conference

May 24th, 2012
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While securing financing is an important milestone for developing new healthcare technologies, developers need to look beyond this first step and find ways to determine and demonstrate the value of their innovations. And there’s no better place to discuss this crucial issue than in Australia.
 
Home to 600 medical device companies, Australia ranks as the fourth-largest market in the Asia-Pacific region. I wrote this post last week from the 2012 AusMedTech (Australia Medical Technology) national conference in Sydney after sharing some strategic insights with device executives.
 
As the device industry continues to grow rapidly, it will be important for technology developers to demonstrate how their products add value to healthcare. No matter where they are located in the world, developers need to:

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Can We Manage a Democratized Healthcare Technology?

May 21st, 2012
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We’ve discussed previously how medical societies, healthcare practitioners and life science product developers are increasingly concerned about reducing costs of healthcare product development and delivery – both for the developing company and the end patient or consumer. Cost-effectiveness and “cost control” are the new watchwords.
 
But much of this cost control will come not from cutting R&D budgets or reducing unnecessary tests (though those are important considerations). Instead, a targeted look at healthcare customers and the development of sensitive, intelligent information technology that can track patient progress and capture customer preferences will pave the way to innovative and revolutionary healthcare delivery.
 
An ideal information system should track product (or service) quality, total patient outcome and the cost of treatment for the entire time a patient is sick. In addition, this information system should monitor and discover behaviors that can prevent illness from happening, or check up remotely on a healthy healthcare consumer (such as a pregnant woman). This will require a “democratization” of IT; a design of systems that anybody can use and that contain metrics that are shared among platforms:

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Can “Portfolio Theory” Be Applied to NIH Funding Decisions?

May 17th, 2012
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The National Institutes of Health has faced some critical fire lately: for funding studies that don’t turn into treatments, for not paying enough heed to the “valley of death” (the stage between bench science and clinical trials), and for not funding enough basic research because of budgetary constraints. But few have asked: how could the agency better select prospective projects?
 
Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston published an intriguing theory: base NIH funding similarly to how investment companies handle portfolios, complete with return on investment calculations. But what would a rate of return be in biomedical research? Years of life saved per dollar spent, say Andrew Lo and his colleagues in their paper published in PLoS One.
 
But as the authors and others admit, “years of life saved” is probably an overly simplistic measure. Perhaps the authors were trying to make a point in the most extreme way possible.

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Optimizing Digital Health’s Future Calls for New Regulatory Vision: A Discussion with a U.S. Congressional Aide

May 11th, 2012
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Washington, DC, is an impressive city. But too many times, one leaves our nation’s capital scratching one’s head. Understanding how large, complex agencies deal with equally large, complex issues is puzzling enough, but issues that change on an almost-daily basis—such as optimizing the potential of advances in digital health—call for much faster solutions than our bureaucratic system is designed to address.
 
To discuss ways to resolve the puzzles inherent in regulating digital health opportunities, Paul Sonnier and I met with Keith Studdard, the Legislative Director to U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn), who has been advocating a clearer, more streamlined regulatory approach to new developments in digital health.  What was our reaction coming home? Instead of scratching our heads, we were pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement and dedication we found.
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Three Steps Toward Actualizing the White House’s Bioeconomy

May 7th, 2012
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The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently released its “National Bioeconomy Blueprint”—a detailed proposal on how advances in our knowledge of biology and biotechnology have spurred significant enough economic activity (e.g., labor, capital and resources) to create a new type of economy for the United States.
 
While the report focused on many areas outside of healthcare, the following three points struck me as significant for those of us who spend our time thinking about life sciences:

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