Entrepreneurial Outlook Series Kicks Off by Discussing the Future of Medtech

Entrepreneurial Outlook Series: Medtech 2020 at the Polsky Exchange  (Photo by Matt Marton)

As a way to kickstart the next year, and decade, the Polsky Center has brought back its Entrepreneurial Outlook series to help community members connect and get ahead of upcoming trends in multiple industries. The second annual series started on Friday, January 24 and focused on the medical technology (medtech) field. During this session, the panel discussed everything from taking control of the learning curve in entrepreneurship to using AI to reduce inefficiencies in the health sector. Speaking on these topics were experts Charles Boorady, MBA ’94, founder and managing director at Health Catalyst Capital; Jay Cui, PhD ’09, MBA ’15, associate director at AbbVie Ventures; Stacy Lindau, founder and CIO of NowPow; Edny Inui, MBA ’16, director of business development at Caribou Biosciences; Harry Rowland, cofounder and CEO at Endotronix; and was moderated by Melissa Byrn, MS ’17, director of innovation programs at the Polsky Center.

When sharing about their backgrounds in medtech, many of the panelists drew connections between working in science and in business. They explained that in the business realm, it’s important to have confidence in your expertise and ability to leverage your science background during new projects. Even when seeking capital, if you find yourself having to explain too much, Boorady recommends looking to new partners. Rowland cautioned PhDs to avoid doing it all and working alone as many are trained to do.

The emphasis on the importance of collaboration and outside input was echoed by other speakers as well. According to the panel, peer review is essential in medtech, just as it is in science. To their skeptics, they explained that success in peer review comes down to picking the right recommenders and appropriate publications. When done right, it always translates well to the product. But as helpful as a science background might be for launching health companies, the panel also acknowledged the tough learning curve. Cui shared that the toughest adjustment going from PhD to MBA was being comfortable with not knowing. In science, experiments always start with a proposed hypothesis, a conclusion to work towards. In business, you can’t rely on having all the information. There won’t always be a logical conclusion.

As the conversation moved to the future of medtech, the panel was most interested in following these emerging trends:

Bringing the Internet of Things to Medical Devices
The panel anticipates the future of information tech to be life changing. Avalon, an AI based company, is working to cure neurodegenerative diseases that commonly develop with age using cloud-based analysis and unique imaging reports. Artificial Pancreas Systems are being designed to make insulin delivery and blood glucose monitoring automated and precise for people with diabetes. From digital implants to Apple watches and Fitbits, the medtech world is pushing for more regulated and accurate daily monitoring to keep people healthy between doctors visits.

Eliminating Medical Waste
Many hospitals and healthcare facilities are wasting their supplies, time, and money, driving up medical costs for patients. About 15% of hospital spendings are used on administrative costs. Some hospitals send up to 5 million faxes a year. The method for sharing and keeping medical files is outdated, inefficient, and unreliable. At UCSF, an estimated amount of $2.9 million are wasted during just neurosurgery operations every year. Groups like Practice Greenhealth are providing some solutions such as having hospitals charge a lump sum rather than per item price for operations, incentivizing doctors to stop wasting supplies. The panel hopes more efforts will go towards reducing this waste.

Increase Efficiency and Retention
Many panelists are excited about companies that are making life easier for patients. One example was Silvernest, a company that connects elderly adults to help them find roommates. Other companies are looking to AI and fee for service payment models to move away from the antiquated one visit per year process. Through these changes, companies hope to prioritize maintenance of health over curing of disease and shift models to focus on quality of care rather than quantity of care.

Learn more about emerging trends in other industries at an upcoming Entrepreneurial Outlook event:

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