Thursday, January 7, 2016

Taking the Pulse of the Medical Device Market

Questions and Answers with:

John Daley
Multi-Site Vice President, Quality Assurance
Boston Scientific

By Patricia Stamas-Jacoby


Consolidation, globalization, evolving technologies, and the advent of patient-centered care are just a few of the key trends driving the healthcare market as we move into 2016. How will these sweeping changes affect both established corporations and emerging healthcare businesses?
Much remains to be seen, but John Daley, Multi-Site Vice President, Quality Assurance, Boston Scientific recently fielded a few key questions from Frost & Sullivan. He shared his insights about opportunities and challenges in the medical devices market space while providing specific examples from his vantage point at Boston Scientific.
Frost & Sullivan: What Boston Scientific product lines do you see--and forsee--being influenced most by technology?
There really isn’t a single area that is not going to be radically influenced.  Whether it is through direct technology improvements to the device itself, like in a pacemaker, or through breakthroughs in advanced manufacturing technologies that let us do things better and faster.  One area worth highlighting is in our direct visualization arena.  With the tremendous shrinking of CCD camera technologies, we have been able to launch a market leading, disposable, endoscope.  The resolution of this digital system is so superior to the old fiber-optic viewing scopes that it has literally resulted in changes of diagnosis.
Frost & Sullivan: What are some of the key challenges and opportunities you see medical device manufacturers facing today?
The key challenge is also the greatest opportunity and that is managing our radically changing global environment.  Whether it is in how we design for a global market or how we ensure regulatory compliance, the world is becoming far more complex.  With the growth in places like China comes great opportunity to serve those markets.  However, as they grow, they naturally start to demand more from both a performance and a regulatory standpoint.  Just slapping a Chinese-language label on a product developed for the European and American markets is no longer good enough.
Frost & Sullivan: "Products becoming services" is a key current trend in healthcare devices--can you provide any examples of this transition with Boston Scientific products? Any current market tests or success stories?
This is one of the most exciting frontiers in the industry and it is something we are putting a lot of effort into.  Among other efforts we have ongoing, we hope to be an integral part of the “internet of things,”  in a way that lets us really have a positive impact on patient health.

For example, we are experimenting with new and more powerful forms of radio-frequency identification (RFID) and intelligence that allows us to track and manage inventories of our products across our customer network, all at a much lower cost than with existing technologies.  These technologies help us to ensure our products are always available when needed, but do not require our customers to hold large quantities of stock that take up valuable clinical space and that will eventually expire. 

This technology can also potentially tell us when there are problems with the conditions in which the product has been stored, such as when a product is stored in humidity or extreme conditions that could compromise the performance of a unique device.  Further, we have been rapidly building our Advantics healthcare solutions organization, focused on helping hospitals and healthcare systems improve cost, quality and outcomes through best-in-class tools, technology and expertise.
Frost & Sullivan: The healthcare market has moved towards solutions that bundle device, data, and analytics and value-based reimbursement models. How is your organization meeting this challenge?
We have really bolstered our corporate accounts footprint in the past few years for just this purpose.  Just one example would be how we are now working far more closely with the purchasing entities to help them understand not only their usage but also their buying patterns so we can both find a way to get to a nice win-win with regard to servce.
Frost & Sullivan: How do you maintain quality assurance with the fast-moving changes technology is bringing to healthcare and healthcare products and services?
We do this by having a rock-solid Design Control system.  Because the system stays at the “what must be done” level wherever possible, the teams all have great leeway to adopt (or discard) technologies and techniques that help them improve our products and services.
Frost & Sullivan: What is your biggest current challenge as Vice President, Quality Assurance?
Managing the complexity of our global businesses and trying my best to ensure that best practices and people are recognized throughout the entire network.  Also, as part of that recognition, making sure we keep our workforce motivated and current.

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