Category Archives: Medical Devices

A Yawn May Not Be Polite, But At Least It Is an Honest Opinion

“A yawn may not be polite, but at least it is an honest opinion”–Voltaire

Actual scan from 4D imaging modality

I read the following lede sentence today in an article about 4-dimensional (4D) imaging and fetuses (don’t worry, this isn’t headed into a political rant on transvaginal ultrasound): “Growing into a fully formed human being is a long process, and scientists have found that unborn babies not only hiccup, swallow and stretch in the womb, they yawn too. “

Are the relatives still here?

Having read it, all I could think was:  Sounds like what everyone was doing after Thanksgiving dinner, not just the fetuses.  Think back to the table on Thursday night and who wasn’t stretching, hiccupping and yawning, having downed enough food and suffered enough drama to fuel the space shuttle to Mars and back?  What’s just funny is that even unborn babies are overwhelmed by the food coma, family dynamics and predictable jokes, or at least that’s my interpretation.

OK, it’s probable that the 4D scans of the babies weren’t done on Thanksgiving, but it would have made the story even more incredible, right?  As if it

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Posted in Diagnostics and Screening, Medical Devices, Real Science, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Singing a New Tune: Redefining Innovation in the Medical Device World

The drumbeat of innovation

This piece also appeared on November 6, 2012 in PE Hub.

In the world of medical devices, innovation has traditionally been defined as the invention of a new device or a new technology that can be packaged into a device, expanding the number of possible medical procedures or at least replacing old ones with those that are new, improved and lemon-scented.  For the past several decades, a parade of medical device entrepreneurs has led a drumbeat of new product development, accompanied by a chorus of venture capitalists saying, “Hey look, a new thingamajig! You’re playing my song!”

In today’s healthcare economy, those same entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are spending far more time facing the music than dancing to it.  We have reached the point where those that pay for healthcare are more than willing to turn down the volume on innovation that does anything other than reduce medical procedures and costs.  The medical device industry has felt the repercussions of this changing tune in a big way.

Cleveland Clinic Innovation Summit 2012

Last week I attended my 2nd and the Cleveland Clinic’s 10th

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Posted in Healthcare, Healthcare Venture Capital, Innovation, Medical Devices, Medical Marketing and MediA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pumpkin Carving at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine

One of my favorite things to do is see the companies in which Psilos invests “in action” and actually interacting with their customers. This is particularly engaging when it comes to medical devices, since the patient and provider experience are so tangible and visible. Last week I had the chance to attend the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Annual Meeting (glad I did not attend on Menopause Day–yikes!). As I walked to my destination, I passed so many transvaginal ultrasound set-ups that I thought for a minute I was at the Republican Convention. But ASRM it was and I was there to visit with Psilos portfolio company OmniGuide, a medical device company based in Cambridge, MA, that was exhibiting its new gynecological laparoscopic and robotic products.

OmniGuide has for several years sold a set of unique CO2 laser surgical tools that have been used in more than 50,000 surgeries in the fields of otolaryngology, neurology and head and neck surgery. The company has recently added the gynecological field to its focus, as it’s products are uniquely able to remove tissue safely while surgeons work near fine structures within

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Posted in Healthcare, Healthcare Venture Capital, Innovation, Medical Devices, Patient Safety, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

They’re Real–Keep Them Spectacular

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.

Not immune from breast cancer

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

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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.

The Usual Suspects

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

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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

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.

Modern medical man

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

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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?

Only person in the world who doesn't look like a nerd wearing Google glasses

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

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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 three witches of MacBeth

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.

Orson Welles as MacBeth

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

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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.

Jukusui-kun, the polar bear

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

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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.

Bionic Eye Prototype

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.

Tell Hillary to hold on...I'm Looking at I Can Has Cheezburger

I hardly know where to begin on this one. First of all, I don’t know about you but damn near everyone I

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