Is Omar Ishrak the last, best hope for the medical device industry? That seems to be the implication of an Economist article, which posits the recently installed CEO of Medtronic as someone who could possibly point the way back to the promised land.

September 8, 2011

2 Min Read
'Economist' Casts Medtronic CEO Ishrak as Savior of Device Industry

Is Omar Ishrak the last, best hope for the medical device industry?

Omar-Ishrak-medtronic-CEO.jpgThat seems to be the implication of an Economist article that lays out all of the woes facing the once-mighty sector and then posits the recently installed CEO of Medtronic as someone who could possibly point the way back to the promised land.

From the article:

Mr Ishrak joined Medtronic from GE Healthcare in June. He has commissioned an independent, transparent review of Infuse. New R&D efforts and acquisitions, he says, will be evaluated with more rigour. To appeal to stingy customers, he wants to change the way Medtronic’s products are sold, gathering data on cost-effectiveness so that the firm can “project offerings in economic terms”.

Most important, Mr Ishrak will devote more attention to emerging markets.

As we mentioned in this space when he was hired, Ishrak seems like a relatively straight shooter, especially for a CEO, at least as evidenced by his willingness to question whether industry's current approach to business will be sustainable in the long run. Where others might be tempted to blame all of industry's ills on factors like the device tax or FDA, Ishrak seems like the type to look inward and ask how industry—or, at least, Medtronic—can adjust to changing realities in a way that leads to long-term benefits.

Of course, this is all speculation, and, of course, I've never run a major corporation. But I do know that in today's world of nonstop marketing and posturing, it's rare to come across someone with any kind of power or visibility who is willing to actually acknowledge, in public, the unpleasant realities of their business.

Candor is something we could all use a little more of. It's far better to accept a situation as it is rather than loudly adhere to a fantasy, simply for the sake of maximizing one's public image. That's the first step toward making things better. If Ishrak can do that, he'll already be leaps and bounds ahead of most of corporate America.

What do you think? Is Ishrak going to revolutionize the way things are done? Or is he, with apologies to Mr. Townshend and Co., the "same as the old boss"? For that matter, is industry's situation truly as dire as the Economist would seem to have it?

Thomas Blair

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