This is a continuation of our interview with Scott Huennekens, keynote speaker for BIOMEDevice in Boston. Huennekens is the former CEO of Verb Surgical, Volcano Corporation.
Interview With Scott Huennekens (continued)
Accumold: Is overreaching regulation tied to one country or one governing body going to slow things down? Perhaps that’s the biggest challenge or maybe it’s something else. What is one enormous area Medtech is going to jump into without fully understanding the implications of their actions? Is the industry going to face-plant on something, or is there going to be some big problem that they open up?
Scott Huennekens: Hopefully we won’t face-plant, and part of that is, look I’m not saying there shouldn’t be regulation, there should be; there absolutely has to be, to protect nations, and so we don’t face-plant.
But we have to be willing to take on a reasonable level of risk in certain areas. So, I think areas — or other countries, take China for example, are allowing certain technologies like Genomics that aren’t allowed in Europe and the U.S., which puts us at a competitive disadvantage on that new technology platform. That may result in some things happening in China, development-wise earlier, but also some other things that were unintended consequences. And with all new technologies, we have to watch out for those, but nothing jumps to mind.
I’m sure there may be, as we go to more open data. We just need laws in place so people can’t use that data against someone for insurance purposes or access to healthcare. Those are all solvable and doable though.
Accumold: That is a good point. As we open this data up to different medical providers. Would jumping too quickly, opening that data too far, be dangerous for consumers?
Scott Huennekens: There are definitely privacy concerns that need to be managed, so we definitely don’t want to race so fast, à la Facebook who sells your data and monetizes it, and doesn’t protect your privacy and your self-interest. Those things need to be taken into account.
Accumold: The one last thing we’ve got for you leads into the first question a little bit, ‘Is there a major opportunity in MedTech that’s lying stagnant, and does it just need a champion to lead it? What would that be?
Scott Huennekens: Well, I think there is one big opportunity, and it’s connecting all these devices and all this data. You know, a company like Verily (Life Sciences), which is part of Google, their whole mantra is, ‘collect, organize and activate.’ That is, let’s develop mechanisms to collect all the data, to organize all this data, so that we can activate it.
Activation will lead to solutions around better outcomes, lower costs, and better access. It may take the Apples, the Googles, the Amazons’ of the world to create these solutions or put the pressure on the Medtech device companies and other industries like pharma, etc. Or tech companies like Cerner and Epic, to open their data platforms so that data can be made accessible, organized in a different way so that the people that have devices can activate the data in a meaningful way. And that’s where, again, just like a China’s bending the curve up for Genomics, I can see a country like China bending the curve up faster than the U.S. because they are a one payer-one provider system, generally; so, they have an incentive to do that. Similarly, in Europe, they have an incentive to drive that, because they are the insurance company and they are the provider of the healthcare both, so they get to more rational decision-making in their healthcare spending and utilization.
Accumold: Last question before I let you go, ‘twenty or thirty years from now, will our children or children’s children think that going to the doctor to get physical check-ups is weird?’
Scott Huennekens: They won’t do it. They’ll look back, just like you and I look back and think how funny to have a phone that’s connected to the wall that I can’t walk around with, that has a cord with a dial.
We’re seeing that rapidly change right now. Having sensors, visualization cues, and where you can do online visits and your data is being aggregated into a common platform, and run through algorithms, so the doctor, and this in Eric Topol’s book, Deep Medicine which I completely agree with.
The doctor today is being forced to be the aggregator of data and grab it from all these different sources. In twenty to thirty years, we’ll have a platform that’s already aggregated, run AI on it, and giving the physician the information so that they, humanistically, can interact with the patient and augment it, and you end up with much better care overall,
Just the way systems are all integrated on an airplane to fly it safer, at a lower cost with better profit. So, take 1950’s air travel and how much it cost, how long it took, quality, how many pilots there were, and how they had to fly, versus how they fly today; outcomes are much better; not as many accidents, and much lower costs (today).
Accumold: Scott, we really appreciate your time! This was really helpful; really good information and it’s exciting!
Scott: Cool. Sounds good! Thanks for reaching out.