For a while now, elective surgeries and the devices that they involve have been suffering, sales-wise. Patients are putting off  elective surgeries and hospitals are enacting cost cutting measures just to stay solvent. But hospitals may be becoming rather draconian in their approach, and the targets are no longer limited to noncritical devices.

A story from Fox News explains that hospitals are agressively renegotiating prices for implantable medical devices, such as knee replacements, stents, and even heart valve replacements. Manufacturers are being pushed against a wall to lower the prices of mature products, as well as highly priced cardiovascular devices such as defibrillators and pacemakers.

Is it fair for hospitals to ask for transparency in pricing, not to mention cost comparisons akin to Amazon.com, as Christopher Baskel asks in the story?...

November 30th, 2011
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I was invited down to Florida recently to view some of the advances they’ve made in the medical device space. Representatives from that state have been making a lot of noise about the technology that’s being developed there, so I thought it would be a good idea to see if they were just “talking the talk.”

My first stop was at a place called The Nicholson Center, a very high-tech training and education center for minimally invasive surgical techniques. Located in Celebration, Fla., a suburb of Orlando, the 54,000-ft.2 center claims to be the world’s largest facility solely dedicated to physician training. With a goal of bringing together physicians, clinical industry leaders, and researchers, the center is expected to train more than 20,000 people from around the world each year. The center had been housed inside the nearby Florida Hospital until recently. It’s now in its own very high...

November 30th, 2011
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You are the pulse of the Medtech Industry, dear reader. That truth is driven home every December when MD+DI publishes the annual salary survey. This year was a change from the usually upbeat results, and it's not surprising. We're seeing higher levels of dissatisfaction than ever before. Our experts say it's the economy in general, the meager state of start-ups, and perhaps a feeling that positions are simply more precarious. 

It's not about the money, Mir Imran recently told editor Brian Buntz, particularly in the medical device industry.

But it is about how you feel about what you do, because, "When you boil it down to its core, we spend about 40% of our time at our jobs and, according to one expert, about 70% of our time thinking about our jobs. So we darn sure better be happy doing what we’re doing....

November 30th, 2011
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top 10The pieces of content our readers found the most interesting this month include Michio Kaku's vision of healthcare's future, MD+DI's manufacturer of the year, and an interview with medical device veteran Thomas Fogarty, MD.

  1. Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku Predicts the Future of Healthcare
  2. MD+DI's Manufacturer of the Year: Johnson & Johnson
  3. An MD+DI Exclusive Interview with Medtech Pioneer Thomas Fogarty, MD
  4. ...
November 29th, 2011
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Don’t let your IP get ripped off in China—it might sound a little harsh, and I apologize if the title offends anyone. But if you’ve ever brought your IP to China to share with a manufacturing partner or for any other reason, you must be aware of the risks that you’re taking. As you’ll learn in this webcast, there are ways to reduce the amount of risk involved. And if the worst does come to pass, you’ll learn what recourse you have.

The webcast is delivered by Jerry Hefner, a patent attorney and partner at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear. Jerry specializes in IP matters related to medical devices, as well as the biotechnology, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.

Note that China has been making significant strides toward...

November 29th, 2011
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Consistent with what one would expect as the 2012 election season barrels ahead, AdvaMed is directing ever more money toward political lobbying efforts. According to a report by the Associated Press, the group spent 20% more in the third quarter of 2011 than it did in the third quarter of 2010, dropping around $428,500 in its attempts to sway Congress.

Again, this should not be much of a surprise, given that this is what advocacy groups like AdvaMed are supposed to do, and given the number of issues in play that could greatly affect industry, like healthcare reform. 

Of particular interest in the AP's report: it mentions that current AdvaMed lobbyist Elizabeth Sharp used to work for Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Baldwin, who represents typically left-leaning Dane County (and the Madison area therein), is...

November 29th, 2011
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Mir Imran holds more than 200 patents. He's started 20 life science companies and a venture firm dedicated fo funding innovative medical startups. Imran has been called a "parallel entrepreneur." In contrast to the mere mortals who start only one company at a time, Imran sometimes launches multiple firms at once.

In a podcast from Stanford Technology Ventures Program from 2008, which I recently stumbled onto, Imran was asked what his motivation for starting so many medical device companies was.

"It's not money. No one in their right mind would do this for money," he said.

The attraction to medical device entrepreneurship lies in the problem solving, Imran quipped. An engineer with a B.S. in electrical engineering as well as a M.S. in...

November 28th, 2011
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I wrote a blog recently for our sister site, EMDT, where I discussed how many OEMs are going to Europe to design, test, and even sell their medical devices because the investment required to do so is far less than what’s required in the U.S.

In a recent conversation with Peter von Dyck, the CEO of eZassi, my beliefs were confirmed. Peter, an accomplished medical device inventor and entrepreneur with numerous patents and multiple inventions, had this to say:

For the first time, U.S. VCs are actually endorsing NOT launching first in the U.S. and actually going outside the US and acquiring initial clinical data and first revenues in the EU instead. Many U.S.-backed innovations spend up to 4 years outside the U.S. prior to gaining access to their own U.S. healthcare market.

Additionally, data shows that EU...

November 23rd, 2011
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A few years ago Rob Stupplebeen was tasked with redesigning toric contact lenses (lenses for people with astigmatism). He was excited by the opportunity to design a lens that met patients needs and altered the company's process of design, by starting from the patient and working backwards, rather than starting with the technology and getting it to fit patients needs.

"We touch every single part of the company," says Stupplebeen of the engineering department, "including design, clinical research, quality control, and back—everything comes to our department." Stupplebeen and I had a frank conversation at the recent DSCC11 conference, hosted by Dassault Systemes, November 8–9 in Las Vegas.

Such back and forth is valuable. Data from the clinical group is used to adjust design parameters, for example. The requirements have to come from a cross functional team.

The trouble is that not all of these...

November 23rd, 2011
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The failure of Congress’s supercommittee to agree on a plan to conquer $1.5 trillion of government debt are expected to lead to cuts in Medicare with an across-the-board 2% reduction aimed at saving $165 billion. Clinicians were already preparing for the cut in payment that is scheduled to go into effect on 1 January, 2012. There is a chance that the 2% cuts might not go into effect as a result of intense lobbying effors from heatlhcare providers, according to analysis from Aparna Krishnan, senior research analyst, IHS Global Insight.

The implications of this development are likely to be felt in the short term. As consumer helathcare costs rise, legislators will be forced to “seek to shift the cost burden,” says Krishnan.

According to Krishnan’s analysis, however, 

[t]here may be some scope...

November 22nd, 2011
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