Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
An Interview with AdvaMed Conference Producer Ray Briscuso
In preparation for AdvaMed 2011: The MedTech Conference, we had a unique opportunity to interview Ray Briscuso, President and CEO at Life Sciences Conference Group, LLC. Each year, Briscuso works with the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) to produce one of the most important meetings focused on medical devices and diagnostics, and which brings together more than 1,500 key MedTech executives from companies in every sector of the industry. It is the premier conference, exhibition and partnering event for medical device, diagnostic and health information companies. In the past, internationally respected voices, such as former Presidents George Bush (Sr.) and Bill Clinton, have been featured as plenary speakers.
I am eagerly anticipating September 26-28 when AdvaMed 2011 will be held in Washington, DC. Following are some insights and highlights from our discussion with Ray about how to get the most out of this year’s event:
Q: AdvaMed 2011 promises to be an action-packed three days. What discussions, events, or talks are you most looking forward to this year? What will be 2011’s most pressing issue?
A: I’ll answer that in three parts:
- First, I’m always interested in the CEO Spotlights at the conference. We get some of the top names in the industry that literally sit on a barstool and have conversations with our attendees. This year, look for discussions from industry leaders such as Steve MacMillan, President & CEO, Stryker Corporation; Joe Almeida, President & CEO, Covidien; and Jeff Binder, President & CEO, Biomet, Inc., to name a few.
- Second, I value opportunities to hear from former presidents of the United States. This year we’ve got former President George W. Bush. In the past, Presidents Clinton and Bush (Sr.) have spoken – you could have heard a pin drop during their talks.
- Third, because the global financial situation is contributing to continued turbulence in financial markets, I’m interested in sessions that focus on investment in our industry – everything from venture capital to private banking dollars. I want to learn: What’s happening to the money? Who is getting investments? This is also the answer to what I believe is the most pressing issue to be discussed at the conference overall this year. I expect discussions on economic development incentives to continue to foster the industry within the United States. There is an opportunity to help support, create, and nurture an industry that pays high wages and employs highly skilled people.
Q: As you mentioned, plenary speakers at the AdvaMed Conference are very important and influential people, and this year is no different. What issues will the speakers, including former President George W. Bush and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, address? How did they get involved in this year’s event?
A: With respect to Governor O’Malley, we invited him because there is such a large medical technology industry in Maryland; it’s a key part of the O’Malley Administration strategy to get to know the industry and to foster its growth. We saw that and invited him – and we are pleased he is willing to make the trip to Washington. While a lot of Marylanders think about the bioscience medical industry in the state, Maryland is also home to many device and diagnostic companies such as BD and Qiagen.
As for President Bush, his family has a long history of personal experience with medical devices, which helps provide a personal connection for him as a speaker.
The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius; the FDA Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Dr. Jeffrey Shuren; and Counselor to the FDA Commissioner John Taylor will also be part of the meeting this year.
Q: In Vitro Diagnostics is a new Program Track at this year’s conference. What should we expect to hear about in this discussion? Why was it added?
A: AdvaMed has been around for more than 35 years. Last year, the association started “AdvaMedDx” to focus solely on the regulatory, payment, and legislative needs of its in vitro diagnostics (IVD) members. AdvaMed is very proud that all 10 major diagnostic manufacturers are members of AdvaMedDx. The members asked us to make sure AdvaMed 2011 was the de facto meeting for AdvaMedDx – and it is. We added a dedicated track and a great deal of other programming specific to the diagnostics industry.
Q: I’m particularly interested in new tools being developed to address inefficiencies in the healthcare system and believe this is a general strategy that will be quite profitable to those companies that execute well. What are your thoughts on this front?
A: In the current budget environment, all parts of the health care industry are being asked to do more with less. Medical technology delivers tremendous patient value so AdvaMed member companies are uniquely situated to help improve value across the continuum of care.
We’ll be educating attendees about proposed government changes. We’ll feature 60 company presentations, many from early-stage companies seeking to address healthcare system inefficiencies. Our members know the importance of medical and economic value in the care setting. This theme will permeate the conference.
Q: AdvaMed conferences bring together people of varied backgrounds with a stake in the MedTech industry. How does this impact the value of the conference?
A: Our conference features investors, seasoned business leaders, and niche service providers with the right experience – we have it all. For attendees, this isn’t about finding a needle in a haystack but rather it’s an efficient way to connect with others who can help them. Like Delta Airlines uses Atlanta as a hub, everyone flies in for our conference and our MedTech Partnering software system allows companies to match needs with skills. It is unique to have such a huge cross-section of the industry, and its senior leadership, represented in one place. We provide efficiencies to small companies who accomplish a lot by attending the MedTech conference.
Q: What advice would you offer first-time attendees for how to make the most out of the conference?
A: The key is to prepare in advance of the conference. Opt-in to the partneringONE® MedTech Partnering system we have as part of the conference. This will open you up to a searchable database to look at anyone else who opted in. You can post a profile, describe your company, and explain your reasons for attending the conference (e.g., to meet with potential strategic partners, to secure funding, to gather regulatory advice). You can search for those who fit your profile and find the right people with which to meet. Look at the schedule in advance and lock down much of your days. During open times, go to a session and introduce yourself to a speaker.
If you don’t plan in advance, you’ll still get your money’s worth, but you are leaving more to chance. Our telephone number is 202-434-7213 and our web address is www.advamed2011.com. Attendees are welcome to call us for more planning tips to ensure you get every ounce of benefit from coming to the conference.
Are you attending this year’s conference? Will your company be participating in MedTech Partnering? I’d be happy to meet up with anyone interested. Please feel free to share your contact information, comments, or your own questions for Ray Briscuso below.
Tags: AdvaMed, AdvaMed 2011, Advanced Medical Technology Association, diagnostics, medical devices, Popper and Co, Ray Briscuso
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In my May 17 blog post, I introduced Dr. Andreas Muehler as one of Popper and Co.’s new strategic advisors. Dr. Muehler brings broad perspectives and business insights, owing in part to his close relationships with established industry leaders in the joint development and commercialization of medical products worldwide. Building upon our last discussion, where I was caught by his enthusiasm as we talked about his past role as CEO for a struggling medical device firm and his experiences positioning products in the global marketplace, I recently talked with Dr. Muehler again to further explore his impressions on the differences between the E.U. and U.S. markets for new life science technologies.
CP: You’ve served within or supported the pharmaceutical and medical device industries in both Europe and the U.S. What do you see as some of the differences?
AM: There are differences in the health care system itself – mainly how you pay for health care delivery, what gets reimbursed, and what control in decision making a physician has in terms of technologies used. For example, the U.S. has good reimbursement for breast biopsies using MRI. In Europe, it’s mainly done with ultrasound because MRI isn’t paid for at all. So in the U.S., technologies are being used when insurance will reimburse for testing and therefore provide a financial benefit to the hospital or physician. In Europe, however, clinical data around a technology is very important in terms of benefit for patient or patient outcome. In Europe, there’s a higher likelihood that good technology, which is backed by good clinical data, will be used when all ducks line up, and the financial benefits to physicians may be less of an overriding issue.
CP: When it comes to launching a new technology, can you tell us more about some of the pros and cons for each geographic locale?
AM: The advantage of Europe for marketing a new technology is that physicians are free (in particular in the hospital setting) to choose their technology if they believe it has a benefit. In Germany, for example, there is a general pricing reimbursement system in hospitals through which the hospitals receive a lump sum payment for a patient with a certain diagnosis but are basically free to use any products and technologies as they see fit. The hurdle to get into market is less as long as you have good clinical data. In the U.S., however, physicians are more open to trying new technology even without clinical data, which can be good for companies. Physicians in the U.S. are also very open to use of electronic patient records (EPR); whereas in Europe, physicians are not as convinced that EPR makes a difference and have more concerns around patient privacy.
CP: What’s different today than five years ago in terms of health technology adoption?
AM: On both sides of the Atlantic, there’s an increase in need for good clinical data for adoption of new devices, in part because of financial pressures on the systems themselves. To successfully market your device, the importance of large-scale clinical data has grown if you want market penetration of your product. In the past, a small clinical observation was sometimes enough to get adoption of your device. Now physicians ask for clinical outcome data and payers and hospitals ask for pharmaco-economic data.
CP: What will be different five years in the future?
AM: The pendulum swings back and forth. The U.S. will realize that a lot of innovation in medical devices will go to Europe because of current restrictions within the FDA’s 510K process. If good examples of important medical breakthrough technologies emerge in Europe that America doesn’t have access to, I believe some new processes will evolve that will allow medical technologies to get approved quicker in the U.S. One such example is hearing implants. Countries like Austria and Germany had in the past instituted mandatory routine hearing tests for babies, and, if needed, paid routinely for hearing implants while the children were still quite young. As a result, most educational facilities for children with hearing disabilities in Austria and Germany actually closed since implanted children undergo an almost normal linguistic development. In the U.S., hearing implants aren’t yet available as widely because they are seen as expensive for the healthcare system and by payers, even if they save more than their share of costs down the road by removing special educational requirements. If this continues, the industry should lobby to politicians and changes may occur in the regulatory process. Then, hearing implants will likely be made more widely available. By the way, the European policy for early hearing tests and hearing implants produced a market leader in hearing implants that is located in Austria.
There are important insights here, especially the need to track the level of clinical research attached to a product as it’s introduced to the E.U. market. It’s also important to note how receptive the European medical community is to new technologies introduced from the U.S. We’ll continue to focus on this important topic, and to share additional insights from Dr. Muehler and our second advisor, Dr. Mills.
We welcome your thoughts on the importance of clinical data in selling medical technologies and how the pendulum of restrictions continues to swing. Where do you think we are now in the U.S. as far as restrictions and our ability to sell in the E.U.? Share your thoughts below.
Tags: Dr. Andreas Muehler, health technology, life science, life science technologies, medical devices
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I had the very fortunate opportunity to meet with Dale Alverson, M.D., Medical Director of the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the University of New Mexico and current President of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). Dr. Alverson has been instrumental in bringing telemedicine to New Mexico for the last several years, and is now actively engaged in bringing telemedicine to the rest of the world.
Telemedicine, defined by the ATA, is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status. Closely associated with telemedicine is the term “telehealth,” which is often used to encompass a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services. Videoconferencing, transmission of still images, e-health (including patient portals), remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education and nursing call centers are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth.
Dr. Alverson presented at the ATA’s Fourth Annual (2010) Mid-Year Meeting in Baltimore this past September. His presentation was entitled “The Perfect Storm.” He described significant changes occurring – and which will continue to occur – given the current conditions in the U.S. healthcare system and the convergence of some key elements within, including:
- Need for effective and affordable health care
- Need for access to care
- Integration of new and emerging technologies
Following are excerpts from my interview with Dr. Alverson:
Q: What is the significance of telemedicine?
A: Telemedicine is becoming a standard of care and is utilized in many healthcare programs including early detection and early intervention programs.
There is evidence that telemedicine/telehealth programs have favorable outcomes. One example is the success of a program in New Mexico called the ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), which is led by Sanjeev Arora, M.D. This program has shown improved outcomes for patients with hepatitis C infection who may not otherwise be able to receive the care and treatment needed for their condition. Through the ECHO program specialists collaborate with healthcare providers in rural areas of New Mexico and provide quality healthcare to patients living in areas where access to care may otherwise be limited or nonexistent.
The ECHO telemedicine model has reached beyond the treatment of hepatitis C to address several other chronic illnesses. Additionally, the program provides rural practitioners access via videoconferencing to a much larger professional community enabling the rural practitioners to enhance and expand their skills.
One of the major funding sources for the ECHO was from AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Dept of Health and Human Services) under THQIT (Transforming Healthcare Quality through Information Technology).
There are many other projects developing across the U.S. and many new and innovative technologies in the market. During this time of urgency to create change in healthcare, there are also many unsolved issues that need to be addressed as telemedicine becomes a standard of care.
Q: What role does the ATA play?
A: The ATA is the leader in telemedicine. The organization began in 1993 with the purpose to create standards, guidelines, and policies and to serve as a resource to distill information to its members. The ATA works in collaboration with several federal agencies, such as the FDA, FCC, CMS, VA, DOD, as well as with international stakeholders, industry, and others involved in healthcare.
Q: What questions still need answers before the full potential of telemedicine can be achieved?
A: We need answers to questions such as:
- What are the best devices to use given there are so many and that the technology is changing and improving everyday?
- Who is reviewing the data coming through the device?
- How is the data acted upon?
- What will be done with the data?
I was fortunate to talk to Dr. Alverson, a thought leader in telemedicine, and I look forward to sharing additional insights from this rapidly evolving and important segment of the health care sector.
Do you feel there are other related questions that should be addressed? If so feel free to make suggestions here, and stay tuned for more information on this critical topic.
Tags: ATA, Dale Alverson, health innovation, healthcare, mHealth, patti doherty, public health, telemedicine
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