Lessons learned help medtech move ahead
The most unsettling year that most anyone can remember had some upsides. We learned more than we wanted about a virus that continues to surprise even the brightest minds in science.
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police, Americans also found we could no longer ignore our racial biases. Companies of all sizes declared their positions on diversity, inclusion and equity. Some sheepishly admitted they had a long way to go. Others crowed about how far they’d already come. Many pledged to do better, and realized they’ll likely be held more accountable for these efforts than ever before.
All of these events made us realize that we share a powerful yearning for leadership. Depending on what segment of medtech you were in, that leadership took different forms. In this issue, we cover several of them.
In an article by assistant editor Sean Whooley, ResMed executive Jim Hollingshead tells how the company responded to the demand for ventilators nearly a year ago and how the COVID-fueled explosion of digital healthcare enabled ResMed to remotely track more patients’ adherence to therapy.
Massive orders in the summer and fall for yet-to-be authorized vaccines sent drug-delivery companies into overdrive to manufacture the needles and syringes needed to inoculate millions. Executive editor Chris Newmarker describes Becton Dickinson’s efforts in that arena.
Pharma editor Brian Buntz writes about how pharmaceutical shipping departments and independent shippers prepared in late fall and early winter for a most welcome but challenging cargo — the fi rst FDA-authorized vaccine against SARS-CoV2. The vaccine from Pfi zer and BioNTech requires transport and in sub-Arctic temperatures to maintain its potency.
On the other end of the spectrum, leaders of firms that make devices used in mostly elective procedures had to manage through sudden slowdowns. In this issue’s cover story by DeviceTalks editorial director Tom Salemi, Stryker CEO Kevin Lobo recounts how he drew on years of crisis management experience to lead the world’s largest orthopedic device manufacturer through one of the segment’s most challenging years.
Rising to CEO of Medtronic in 2020, Geoff Martha rewrote the playbook at the world’s largest medtech company — splitting it into 20 semi-autonomous operating units in a bid to accelerate growth. In this month’s DeviceTalks column, Martha tells us how this new system could drive competition and innovation.
In another article penned by Whooley, longtime Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer recounts his efforts at taking care of employees and patients during the pandemic and how COVID gave the insulin-delivery technology developer a new market.
We also tell how 2020 yielded opportunities for other organizations.
In the months after George Floyd’s death, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) invited the historically nondiverse medtech industry to engage further with its members and programs. Of the 3,300 members in NSBE’s Healthcare Innovation Special Interest Group, only 300 work in the medical device industry.
In a Q&A with senior editor Danielle Kirsh, NSBE treasurer Theodore Nicholson describes how medtech can boost the ranks of its Black employees and leaders while working to eliminate healthcare disparities and close the gaps in care delivery to Black communities.
And finally, I write about bigmedtech veteran Aimee Garza’s entry into the world of startups. In April 2020, Garza founded CoraVie Medical to develop an implant to continuously monitor blood pressure and alert physicians to potentially dangerous irregularities that might otherwise go unnoticed and untreated.
I remain awed by what medtech did for humanity in 2020 and believe that 2021 will be a better year. My wish for the New Year is that we will take what we learned about the shortcomings and strengths in healthcare, industry, government and ourselves and apply those lessons to make that happen.
Medical Design & Outsourcing