How Reggie Groves reinvented Medtronic’s atrial fibrillation biz

Reva Medical (ASX:RVA) CEO Reggie Groves got her start in the medical device industry at medtech titan Medtronic. In her upcoming keynote interview at DeviceTalks West, Groves will discuss how that experience has shaped her as a leader and an innovator. Here’s a preview:

When Reggie Groves joined Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) in 2002, she didn’t know very much about the medical device industry. That was by design, she told MassDevice – the company was looking for somebody outside of the medtech world to launch their CareLink Network. It was the world’s first remote monitoring system designed to link the data in patients’ implanted devices with physicians.

Reggie Groves“I knew that (Medtronic) was a big company that was well respected and that was about all I really knew about them,” she said. “I saw what they were doing in remote device check as the start of a complete transformation of the medical device industry – moving away from being the implant to being the data managers.”

After commercializing CareLink and then moving to the regulatory and quality side of the business, Groves stepped up to build Medtronic’s atrial fibrillation ablation business. At the time, according to Groves, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) held a sizable lead in the AF space, followed by St. Jude.

Medtronic’s AF unit “basically didn’t exist,” Groves said – the company had previously sold its electrophysiology business. It was Groves’ job to determine how the company could build an AF division that would stand out among fierce competition.

Catch Groves’ keynote interview at DeviceTalks West on Dec. 11 – register today!

She decided to rethink the way that the company’s sales force was selling its newest technologies to electrophysiologists.

“Most companies would have said, ‘We’ve got this great big sales force, here’s another product in their tool bag. Give it to them and let them sell it.’ And I said, ‘That’s the worst thing we could do because it’s a disruptive technology and we don’t want every customer to have it.’ If you’re the sales rep who’s also selling CRT devices and ICT devices, you’re going to bundle,” she said. “Something is going to be given away and the easiest thing to give away is the new novel thing. You’ll never make any money in AF, which is why Medtronic walked away from it the first time.”

Groves set up her own sales team and told them to only sell Medtronic’s AF technology to early adopters.

“When you walk in the door for the sales meeting, if you get the ‘Oh, it’s too expensive, oh it’s not flexible enough, oh it doesn’t do enough,’ – turn around and walk out the door. That’s not an early adopter. You need to find the customers who get the value proposition,” she explained.

At the time, competitive devices from St. Jude and J&J were designed to allow the very best doctors to perform an ablation anywhere in the heart. At Medtronic, Groves was positioning the company’s AF device as usable by any electrophysiologist who was looking to isolate the pulmonary vein.

Her plan was not without pushback, according to Groves.

“It wasn’t easy, even within Medtronic. I had lots of naysayers and it took the CEO stepping in, listening to the argument and making the call,” she said. “But I got really lucky that I believed in a different approach to launching a product compared to most big companies and Medtronic let me do it my way.”

Don’t miss out on the rest of Groves’ exciting story – see her at DeviceTalks West on Dec. 11-12.

The post How Reggie Groves reinvented Medtronic’s atrial fibrillation biz appeared first on MassDevice.

Alfred Mann Foundation chairman looks outward to extend founder’s legacy

Alfred Mann Foundation chairman Dr. Robert Greenberg

When medtech pioneer Alfred Mann died in February 2016, he left behind a rich legacy of pure innovation and patient impact spanning the breadth of healthcare, from cardiology to hearing impairment, blindness and diabetes that will improve the lives of patients for decades to come.

Extending and advancing that legacy is now the mission of Dr. Robert Greenberg, who took over as the foundation’s chairman in July. Speaking ahead of his appearance next week at MassDevice.com’s DeviceTalks West event in Costa Mesa, Greenberg told us that he’s looking to expand the foundation’s reach into the early-stage medical device ecosystem.

Don’t miss Dr. Robert Greenberg’s keynote appearance Dec. 12 at DeviceTalks West!

“One of the recognitions that Al Mann had was that there are tons of physicians, and specifically academic physicians, that have great ideas, therapies that could help patients, but are not so well placed to get those products developed and into companies that could commercialize and make those therapies available to patients. That was the philosophy behind [the foundation],” Greenberg told us.

That insight led to numerous successful spinouts that became some of the biggest names in medtech. The cochlear implant technology developed at the Alfred Mann Foundation became Advanced Bionics and eventually the cornerstone of the neuromodulation business at Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX).

More recently the organization spun out Axonics Modulation Technologies (NSDQ:AXNX), which raised $138 million this month in an initial public offering for its r-SNM sacral neuromodulation system.

The foundation was also behind a glucose sensor and insulin pump business that’s now Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) MiniMed. And the Alfred Mann Foundation also spun out Second Sight Medical (NSDQ:EYES) and its “bionic eye” technology, helmed by Greenberg, that’s in clinical trials for its Orion cortical implant technology – a potentially revolutionary device that could bring eyesight to the blind.

And the company that started it all, PaceSetter, was the cardiac rhythm management business that grew into St. Jude Medical and eventually Abbott (NYSE:ABT).

All of those spinouts originated within the foundation. Greenberg said he’s turning the focus outward, seeking very early-stage enterprises that could use a leg up from the AMF.

“One of the reasons why so many of our startups have been successful is that they’ve been able to leverage the sort of back-end infrastructure, where the foundation has kind of acted as an incubator. We’re now opening up that incubator to allow other companies to rent space, rent time on our equipment, and even get access to our team as well. That’s a fairly new model for us, where we’re trying to contribute to the local infrastructure more,” he told us.

“That’s one of the things that’s the hardest for me, is that there are tons of amazing, great ideas and projects that can have a significant impact on people’s health,” Greenberg said. “Trying to focus down on the ones that are going to have the highest impact and make the best use of all these limited resources is really the bigger challenge.”

Hear the rest of Bob Greenberg’s story Dec. 12 at DeviceTalks West. Register now!

The post Alfred Mann Foundation chairman looks outward to extend founder’s legacy appeared first on MassDevice.

6 exhibitors at DeviceTalks West you should know

DeviceTalks-West-2018DeviceTalks West is an annual event that allows some of the best minds in medtech to exchange ideas, insights and technologies.

Medical Design & Outsourcing’s parent company WTWH Media holds DeviceTalks annually in Boston, Orange County, Calif., and the Twin Cities in Minnesota. It is hosted by MassDevice and attendees can plan to enjoy networking with people in medtech, in-depth interviews with leaders in the industry, panel discussions about medical devices and more.

The event also houses a number of exhibitors who will be showcasing some of their hot technologies and services at the event. Here are six exhibitors at DeviceTalks West this year that you should check out.

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The post 6 exhibitors at DeviceTalks West you should know appeared first on MassDevice.

How a teenage Gary Guthart, Intuitive Surgical’s CEO, got his start at NASA

Intuitive Surgical CEO Gary GuthartToday Gary Guthart is best know as the CEO of Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG), the world’s leading medical robotics company. But robot-assisted surgery wasn’t Guthart’s first love, he told MassDevice.com ahead of his keynote appearance at this year’s DeviceTalks West event.

That honor goes to NASA (or, more properly, science). During his teenage years growing up in Sunnyvale, Calif., Guthart told us, he landed a job at the space agency that helped shape the course of his life.

Don’t miss Gary Guthart’s keynote appearance Dec. 11 at DeviceTalks West!

“I was a shy kid and a good math student. It turns out I had a knack for math,” Guthart recalled. “Then, my senior year of high school, a calculus teacher said, ‘Hey, I am going to sign you up for an internship.’ He actually signed me up without telling me.

“I wound up in a human factors research lab run by a woman named Sandra Hart. I wrote software for evaluating the performance of combat pilots when under stress,” he said.

Guthart never looked back, he added.

“I decided, ‘I can’t believe I get paid to do this.’ I got to ride my bike onto, it was at that time a Naval base and a NASA base, so I had a little security clearance and rode through the little armed gates and got to watch experimental aircraft fly in and out of the base and meet shuttle pilots – and all as a teenager,” he said. “I though, ‘I am in. That is it. I don’t care what else I am doing, but if I get paid to do this, this is the best job in the world.’ So that was my entry into science.”

After a nine-year stint in academia, during which Guthart earned a Ph.D. in fluid mechanics, he landed at an applied research lab at Stanford Research Institute when a chance encounter at a basketball game put medical robotics on his radar.

“While I was out at SRI, I would play basketball over lunch every lunchtime on the SRI basketball court. It was a good game, it was full, and I am standing on the sidelines (because I wasn’t a great basketball player) and I am starting with the person next to me, who is also not a great basketball player, and he said, ‘Do you know anything about this kind of non-linear math, I am struggling with this surgical robot I am trying to make?’ That is how I ran into surgical robots,” he told us.

Hear the rest of Gary Guthart’s story Dec. 11 at DeviceTalks West. Register now!

The post How a teenage Gary Guthart, Intuitive Surgical’s CEO, got his start at NASA appeared first on MassDevice.

How Smith & Nephew’s InVentures program is promoting innovation

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Smith & Nephew InVentures

Smith & Nephew’s InVentures has developed devices including a a suspension-based bone implant for the shoulder (left) and a set of seven instruments to arthroscopically treat meniscal root tears (right). [Images courtesy of Smith & Nephew]

For nearly a decade, Smith & Nephew’s InVentures program has worked with surgeons who have innovative ideas but aren’t starting their own companies.

The program provides a third innovation route on top of the major two for big medical device companies: internal R&D and acquisition of smaller companies with new technologies.

“A company the size of Smith & Nephew – we have scale by being in contact with  surgeon end users, who see and appreciate opportunities for improvement in care through their challenges in everyday surgical problem solving that may be hard to accomplish with the solutions currently available in the market,” said Jeff Wyman, who has been VP of InVentures since 2011.

“As opposed to surgeons charting out on their own [course], we created a portal where they have the ability to come to us first with problems that they may have or ideas for improvements,” Wyman said. “The business  we established is built around a robust idea management system where we can evaluate ideas for their intellectual property, merit, strategic fit within the organization and manufacturability.”

Get the full story on our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing.

(See Wyman discuss innovation and product development at DeviceTalks West, Dec. 11–12 in Orange County, Calif.)

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