January 2017 issue: Leadership in medical technology + more


2017: A year of continued change

This year was slated to be one of profound change even before it began. The surprise election of Donald Trump is the most obvious example, but 2016 saw its fair share of churn in the C suite. Here are just a few examples:

  • AngioDynamics and Joe DeVivo parted ways last year, with Covidien veteran James Clemmer taking over the corner office. DeVivo landed at InTouch Health, which is pioneering a telehealth network designed to securely and wirelessly link medical devices.
  • Titan Medical CEO John Hargrove and clinical & regulatory EVP Dr. Dennis Fowler each stepped down in 2016, as the company struggled to find the cash to fund development of its Sport robot-assisted surgery platform.
  • ConforMIS replaced founder & CEO Dr. Philipp Lang (who stayed on as a director) with former Integra LifeSciences president Mark Augusti.
  • Smith & Nephew CFO Julie Brown moves to luxury apparel maker Burberry; Brown is due to be replaced effective March 1 by Graham Baker, currently the finance chief at generic pharmaceuticals maker Alvogen.

That trend is slated to continue into 2017, as the new administration finalizes its choices for the top spots in government. As of this writing in December, the president-elect had selected several controversial figures for key positions affecting healthcare and medtech in particular. If confirmed by Congress these nominees are likely to initiate profound changes to our healthcare system and economy.

For example, the pick for head of the Health & Human Services Dept., Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), an orthopedic surgeon and avowed Obamacare foe, introduced his own legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. His plan formed the basis for House Speaker Rep.Paul Ryan’s healthcare proposal and would create fixed tax credits to be used for healthcare, promote health savings accounts and create state-level “high-risk pools” designed for people with existing conditions.

Seema Verma, Trump’s pick to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is a healthcare consultant with extensive Medicaid experience who worked closely with Vice President-elect Mike Pence in designing the expansion of Indiana’s elderly healthcare program under the ACA. Verma helped design a system which calls for participants to pay a small monthly fee for public health insurance; a missed payment results in a 6-month lockout.

And Trump was said in early December to be considering Jim O’Neill, a Silicon Valley investor with no medical experience, to lead the FDA. O’Neill has said that the federal watchdog should stop considering efficacy when evaluating medical devices and drugs, approving them solely on the basis of their safety.

It remains to be seen how these picks will affect medtech, which is in for more changes related to the election – including the likely repeal of the medical device tax.

Changes are also taking place here at Medical Design & Outsourcing as we close our second year. We’ve expanded our reach considerably this year and will continue to do so in 2017. As part of that growth, I’m happy to write that Managing Editor Nic Abraham has stepped into a new digital marketing role for WTWH Media’s medical division.My father, who served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, always said it’s the sergeants who really run the show; Nic, herself an Air Force veteran, is a shining example of that. She’s been a key part of our continued growth here at MDO and we’re so glad to still be working with her as she pursues her passion for marketing.

We’re lucky that Nic’s replacement as managing editor, Chris Newmarker, is himself so accomplished. Chris comes to us from UBM Canon, where he was a senior editor in charge of Qmed. An experienced journalist,Chris brings a wealth of knowledge to bear on the medical device industry. We’re delighted to have Chris aboard as we look ahead to 2017 and its challenges and opportunities.

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