Category Archives: Medical Devices

They’re Real–Keep Them Spectacular

Just add analytics

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the U.S. and if you are a human being with breasts or a fan of same, be aware.  About 226,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and nearly 40,000 women die of breast cancer annually. Just as a point of reference, about 32,000 Americans die in car accidents every year.

And by the way, while men generally think of breast cancer as something their wives and mothers get, that is not always the case—men can get breast cancer too.  The number of new cases is small (1% of breast cancers occur in men), but male breast cancer gets diagnosed about 2000 times per year and 400 men die each year from breast cancer.  A close friend of my family, young and healthy (albeit with an unhealthy fascination with Bucky Badger), found out he had breast cancer earlier this year and had to go through the same miserable experience that so many women endure—surgery, chemo, the whole nine yards.  Since he was one of the few men over 50 who hadn’t already lost his hair, he got stuck with that too.  

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Posted in Consumer Engagement, Diagnostics and Screening, Health and Wellness, Medical Devices, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are the 51%!


This story also ran in Xconomy on September 18, 2012

The organization called Medtech Women just held its second annual Medtech Vision Conference last week and it was another sold-out event. (You can see my story on the first year of the Medtech Vision conference here.) With a focus on the era of the “empowered patient” and how that is changing medicine, 200 women business leaders, physicians, policymakers, and investors gathered at the Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park, CA to discuss the changing healthcare environment and how it is affecting their livelihoods.

What is notable about this conference, aside from the fact that it has solely female speakers and attendees, is the impact this makeup has on content. This is not because men and women are so different, though they can be, but because most medical technology conferences suffer from what I will call “Usual Suspects Syndrome.” The vast majority of speakers at these events are men and often the same men year after year. They are the many, the proud, and the successful in medtech, but they are who they are and their voice can be heard fairly frequently

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Posted in Consumer Engagement, General Business Issues, Girls Rule!, Medical Devices, Uncategorized, Women in Venture Capital & Private Equity | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Be Afraid, Be Very, Very Afraid

First she moves your money, then your heartbeat

The combination of medical devices and healthcare information technology (HIT) is very much upon us.  When most people think about this merger of technical fields, they are drawn to think of the way in which mobile phones are being used in medical applications, some very much in the manner of medical devices such as ultrasound imagers, cardiac and glucose monitors and even medical microscopes.

But even closer to home and at the center of the action, implantable medical devices, are now becoming more and more “wired.” We have entered an era where devices implanted into the body, once only mechanical in nature, feature software and silicon chips that provide means of sensing bodily changes in situ, self-regulating device activity, and reporting parameters to the outside world.  Pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps, nerve stimulation devices, and even coming breakthroughs in orthopedic and sight-based medical technologies will extend life and make us the cyborgs we once feared but learned to love as our bodies are rescued from the aging process by man’s power over machine.

And that should make us very afraid.  Because where there is hardware and software there are problems.  You

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Posted in Diagnostics and Screening, Health and Wellness, Healthcare, Healthcare Information Technology, Innovation, Medical Devices, Patient Safety, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Does This Augmented Reality Make Me Look Fat?

Skinny Glasses (TM); rose-colored, naturally

Much has been made lately in the tech press about Google’s Project Glass, an effort underway at Google to develop and sell a pair of glasses equipped with an on-board cell phone, camera, display, and microphone.  One of the latest entries in the “augmented reality” movement, the Google glasses are meant to allow you to far more effectively plow into street signs and parked cars by completely taking your eyes off the road when walking or driving.  Now I think I understand why CMS has seen fit to issue a new series of ICD-10 codes to allow for accurate coding when one walks into a lamppost either once or twice (see codes W22.02XA and W22.02XD, respectively; I wrote a whole story on these crazy ICD-10 codes which you can read HERE).  In theory, the true purpose of Google glasses is to free you from being tethered to such mobility limiting devices as cell phones in order to stream advertising directly to your eyeballs without the aggravating interference of three feet of arm length (one and a half feet if you are over forty and need to hold your phone

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Posted in Consumer Engagement, Healthcare Information Technology, Healthy Eating, Medical Devices, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Done Cannot Be Undone


Shakespeare’s play MacBeth opens with two witches uttering these words:

“When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

“When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.

The quote refers to the impending reunion of three sister witches intent on evil, but it struck me as a great metaphor for what the outcome of current efforts to reform healthcare must accomplish:  the re-connection of incentives, both clinical and financial, among the three most critical constituents of our healthcare system:  patients, payers and providers.  If these incentives do not align, or meet again soon, as a result of seismic shifts underway, the U.S. economy is probably doomed to collapse under the financial weight of our current healthcare system dysfunction.

In fact, MacBeth felt like a completely appropriate metaphor to me as I contemplated what is going on within the medical device industry while I attended last weeks’ IBF MedTech Investing conference.  The conference took place in Minneapolis, considered by many to be the ancestral homeland of much of today’s medical device industry.  Minneapolis is not exactly Scotland (witness complete lack of hills), but it

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Posted in Healthcare, Healthcare Policy, Healthcare private equity, Healthcare Reform, Healthcare Venture Capital, Innovation, Medical Devices, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear


I wasn’t planning a series of blog posts on ridiculous medical devices, but after my last post about the bionic contact lens I realized that the product I will now introduce to you provides an even better reason for venture investors to throw up their hands and run from the medical device field.

I’m not sure exactly what it is that drives the Japanese medical device industry to build products in the form of sea mammals, but this is also my second post about that topic, the first being the one called I, Robot Seal some months back about a robotic seal used to improve the psychological state of nursing home residents.   Go figure.

In this installment of oddly-conceived sea mammal medicine, I submit to you the Jukusui-kun.  What is a Jukusui-kun, you might ask?  Well, sit back, grab a harpoon and I’ll tell you. Jukusui-kun is a robot polar bear disguised as an intelligent pillow to help prevent snoring and sleep apnea. Yes, you read that right. It is basically a therapeutic stuffed animal that is intended to treat a fairly serious set of medical conditions.  A little

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Posted in Diagnostics and Screening, Health and Wellness, Healthcare, Medical Devices, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Coming Soon to an Eyeball Near You


I have written lately about how venture investors who have had long traditions of investing in medical devices are abandoning this sector. Among the reasons given are the increasingly difficult regulatory and reimbursement environments, the lengthy time to liquidity and the anemic IPO market. But having seen a few stories lately about the newest medical technologies hurtling towards the market, I am beginning to think that the best reason to run from this field is that the inventions are getting crazier and crazier.

Exhibit A is a new type of contact lens that projects images directly onto the eye. According to its inventors at the University of Washington, this new contact lens “could enable wearers to read floating texts and emails or augment their sight with computer-generated images.” Well thank God because it was getting exhausting for me to look all the way from my eyes to my iPhone to read my email.

I hardly know where to begin on this one. First of all, I don’t know about you but damn near everyone I know is already so glued to their email device that they forget to participate

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Posted in Healthcare private equity, Healthcare Venture Capital, Innovation, Medical Devices, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Dense?


Sometimes comedy and healthcare collide. I caught an episode of the Ellen DeGeneres Show recently where her guest that day was one of my favorite comedians, Wanda Sykes. Sykes was there, in part, to discuss her recent battle with breast cancer, a disease she found out she had quite by accident. Apparently Sykes had gone in for a voluntary cosmetic breast reduction (this is the cue for men everywhere to gasp in horror) and after the procedure it was discovered that the tissue removed, which is routinely examined after such procedures, was cancerous.

If you have extra time, you can watch the actual 4 and a half minute Ellen-Wanda interview by clicking HERE.

In the interview, Sykes talked about how, given her personal risk factors for breast cancer and her unwillingness to live fearing it’s sudden return, she decided to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy in order to ensure she would not end up with breast cancer in the future.  It is an extreme decision, but one that is being taken more often by women willing to trade off body parts to avoid living in fear and submitting to

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Posted in Diagnostics and Screening, Girls Rule!, Health and Wellness, Healthcare, Healthcare Policy, Medical Devices, Preventive Health, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Smoke on the Water: Fireworks in Cleveland


I spent the early part of this week attending the Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit and, despite the fact that the Cleveland Clinic stubbornly insists on holding it’s conference in Cleveland (aka The Mistake on the Lake), it was well worth attending.

Cleveland is an interesting town. Once upon a time, when old white men roamed the earth in cars driven by chauffeurs, Cleveland was the nation’s fifth largest city and had the highest number of Fortune 500 headquarters of any US city. Today, the Cleveland Clinic is the largest employer in the city, which is known also for a river that used to spontaneously combust and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the perfect song for this occasion is clearly Smoke on the Water). In a way Cleveland is the perfect place to honor aging rock stars, as they can pick up a statuette and an angioplasty on the same trip. By the way, the river doesn’t catch fire anymore I’m told. I was worried because the Clinic hosted a pretty impressive fireworks display over Lake Erie for their 1500 guests and no doubt most of us expected

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Posted in Healthcare, Healthcare Policy, Medical Devices, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision

It takes a vision

We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Xconomy (a great web publication of life science and technology news and analysis that targets the “innovation community”) asked me to serve as their roving correspondent to provide a view from the MedTechVision Conference, held September 15-16 at the Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park, CA.  Here is my report:

“I hadn’t given any thought to the fact that it was theoretically a ‘women’s conference before I walked into the room. I’d just promised the organizer, a friend, that I would come,” said Vance Vanier, CEO of Navigenics. “But walking into the room full of women had quite an impact; I realized how much I stood out and it was worth noting. It made me realize what women experience when they go to events like this.”

Vanier was commenting on his experience as a male attendee at the conference, which was intended to provide a platform for the many women executives in the medical technology field to wield the microphone. Some 200 women and 3 intrepid men spent two days in a room hearing

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Posted in Girls Rule!, Healthcare, Healthcare Information Technology, Healthcare private equity, Healthcare Venture Capital, Medical Devices, Uncategorized, Women in Venture Capital & Private Equity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments