December 3, 2023

Grand Depart

Experienced In Technology

What medtech’s top influencers think

6 min read
What medtech’s top influencers think

Artificial intelligence’s effect on medtech was a question that came up continually during our DeviceTalks Boston show in early May.

Here is what some of the top influencers in the industry had to say:

Boston Scientific CEO Mike Mahoney on artificial intelligence and medtech

A portrait of Mike Mahoney, the chair and CEO of Boston Scientific

Boston Scientific CEO Mike Mahoney [Photo courtesy of Boston Scientific]

“I’ll give you some practical applications. … We have manufacturing plants around the world, and we have great quality systems, and we have great quality engineers who inspect everything, and we have a zillion microscopes looking at every little product that we have all over the world. Our team is leveraging AI capabilities for visualization inspection rather than the human eye constantly doing that with the mistakes that are inherent and scrapping products and so forth. … We’re seeing cost productivity and better quality by just leveraging AI in our visualization inspection in our plants. So it’s still at its infancy, but if you think of a large company where you’re spending over 3%, probably 3.5%of sales and quality and X percent of that’s within that visualization area, it’s a great practical application that’s going create less scrap, safer products. …

“You have variance of doctor skills all over the world. If you have that AI algorithm, just like they have with diagnostic imaging, you can raise the bar in terms of quality and potentially speed programs. You’re seeing AI used all over the place. You see it used in our diagnostics business in CRM where we have these two-week Holter monitors. Your heart beats 100,000 times a day and you have thousands of patients that you’re monitoring. And you can’t hire 8,000 people in Gillette Stadium to read all these EKGs. So you leverage AI algorithms to actually read the EKGs for you, and they flag kind of red, yellow, green as to which ones to look at for the human inspection. I think you’ll see it improve quality, as I mentioned. You’ll see it in our training and our marketing capabilities. And I think you’re going see some amazing AI capabilities typically around the diagnostic area that’ll be married with our implants.”

BD CEO Tom Polen on artificial intelligence and medtech

A portrait of BD CEO Tom Polen

BD CEO Tom Polen [Photo courtesy of BD]

“We’re doing work with AI both to help us simplify our organization and … using AI to automate internal processes or using AI to optimize our manufacturing systems and cost positions, playing it in those scenarios. But also, we’ve been using AI for quite some time in product technology. .. [We have] an AI platform that’s really taking off that we have developed in partnership with Microsoft using their AI experts. And this is around looking at behaviors within a hospital of clinicians and how they interact with our devices across different parameters to identify who could be diverting narcotics in the hospital — and help make sure that we get those patients help and prevent harm to patients. … We’ve got a lot of other products with AI in the pipeline, and we see it both making BD stronger as a company in how we operate and also making products better for our customers.”

Dr. Nitin Goyal, orthopedic surgeon and chief science, technology and innovation officer at Zimmer Biomet

A portrait of Dr. Nitin Goyal, Zimmer Biomet’s chief science, technology and innovation officer.

Dr. Nitin Goyal is Zimmer Biomet’s chief science, technology and innovation officer. [Photo courtesy of Zimmer Biomet]

“In my space, if you come in with knee arthritis, what determines whether you should have surgery? Today it’s based on kind of who you see versus a real data driven thing. It’s, ‘Well, I have this much pain.’ Is that enough pain to have surgery? Your doctor thought it was at that time, but maybe if you see someone else they will tell you a different answer. And I’m not saying that that independence shouldn’t exist, but I wonder if you could add more data to that story. So maybe even before you come to see that provider, they already know that you should be seeing that provider. So maybe you just need to see your [primary care provider], maybe you need to see a physician assistant. Maybe you don’t need even to be evaluated by a surgeon, because that’s not the level of problem.”

Kevin Bourque, divisional VP of research and development at Abbott, on artificial intelligence and medtech

Kevin Bourque, divisional VP of research and development for Abbott

Kevin Bourque, Abbott division VP of product development [Photo courtesy of Abbott]

“Abbott’s health tech solutions focus on greater access to healthcare where and when people need it via connected platforms. Smaller, smarter devices can reduce the burden on health systems by increasing efficiency, and ultimately AI and machine learning could identify patterns to help predict and reduce serious health issues through earlier intervention.”

Joe Mullings, CEO of The Mullings Group

A portrait of Joe Mullings, CEO of the Mullings Group.

Joe Mullings is CEO of the Mullings Group [Photo courtesy of the Mullings Group

“If you look at AI as it goes to optimization of current workflow, that’s where your low-hanging fruit is. And I think the device companies that are going to be billion-dollar exits are going to be more focused on: ‘What’s existing today? How do I optimize it? How do I address the labor issue? How do I make the clinicians job a little easier, drop their cognitive load? And how do I work with what’s existing already in the ecosystem?’ Because that’s where Medtronic and J&J and Stryker and Edwards will spend billions of dollars in acquisitions that protect the moat they already have — [and] supercharges it.”

Robert Cohen, president of digital, robotics, and enabling technologies at Stryker

A portrait of Stryker executive Robert Cohen

Robert Cohen is president of Stryker’s Digital, Robotics and Enabling Technologies organization. [Photo courtesy of Stryker]

“It’s remarkable what some of these small companies have done with ultrasound imaging, MRI, CT scans, and the insights they’ve got with artificial intelligence. Companies — like Stryker — doesn’t matter how you grew, been around for 80 years. If you’re slow, you’re going to lose. You have to look at product development in completely different ways. …

“With AI and with data access, preoperatively we can say, ‘OK, you’re a 60-year-old male, your BMI is 39, your arthritis has been around for 15 years, this is your pain threshold, we’ve got a CT scan, this is your bone mass density — oh, and by the way, you have two millimeters of bone worn away because you had an arthritic condition you articulated and guess what: You’re also a diabetic. We never had that data on the patient before. We just normalized everybody into the same patient. Now, with AI and access to electronic health records data in ways we never had before, we can determine better what Stryker implant’s best for that patient and where should that implant go in that specific patient. Is that patient safe for outpatient surgery or should that patient stay in the hospital one day or two or three days — now there’s an economic component to it — and when should that person go back to work? What does success look like for that patient? That’s super exciting. I think you’ll see AI contributing to those use cases. We’re mapping out all the procedures where Stryker equipment participates in the operating room, looking at the continuum of care and all the data elements, capturing all the data elements, and then looking at what we can do for predictive analytics to actually benefit healthcare and provide more information to the surgeon.” 

Jeffery Alvarez, chief strategy officer of Moon Surgical, on artificial intelligence and medtech

A portrait of Moon Surgical Chief Strategy Officer Jeffery Alvarez.

Moon Surgical Chief Strategy Officer Jeffery Alvarez. [Photo courtesy of Moon Surgical]

“What I would love to see in the near future is the use of generative AI to shorten the cycle time with the FDA. … What are the right questions to be asking. How do you need to perceive this technology? What are the right comparisons to make? What are the right tests to look at? If we could shorten that cycle time for innovation to get to the market, it would just be so much better. It’ll also reduce the overhead to making design changes or evolving products so that we can develop all these unique AI applications faster.”

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