The smug feeling of accomplishment after watching a documentary, gluttonously and thanklessly benefitting from the cliff note version of someones painstaking and extensive research, in fact seldom proves useful in shifting personal philosophies, in the long term anyway. Watching the stories of Ford and Lego, globally recognizable corporate giants in unrelated industries, I couldnt help but ponder the glaring commonality in the stories of their obstacles. As Gordon Ramsay once told a reluctant restauranteur who was hell bent on satisfying the disappearing demand of patrons of yesteryear amidst a stifling business, ADAPT OR DIE YOU STUPID DONKEY! Lego and Ford, in their own ways fell prey to the restauranteurs mentality at different phases of their historic narratives; the former embarrassingly tardy in recognizing the potential in an underserviced female market and the latter suffering due to an egomaniacal denial of obvious truths surrounding the need to evolve from the classic Model T automobile.
Theses swirling messages where firmly imbedded into my psyche, which led me to think, is this likely to happen to the medical device industry? More to the point, does that mean my skills as a medical device industry expert will be antiquated, and then, will I become unemployable? Uh-oh. This personal and selfish inquiry, found an accomplice in my background in developmental biology, and ultimately resulted in the creation of a project with the headline Regenerative Medicine: The Trojan Horse of the Medical Device Industry? After all, why shouldnt I turn my fear into a present-day opportunity for self-promotion and skill acquisition, not to mention mutually beneficial financial gain? Motivational speakers always talk about turning fear into opportunity. Its what any restauranteur in denial would do; my personal version of happy-hour Monday.
I digress from whats important though; the premise of the project was to figure out, does the medical device industry have anything to learn from companies such as Ford and Lego? Is there imminent danger in the form of the advancement of regenerative medicine? After all, theoretically, if we can start making organs like postmodern Dr. Frankenstein, injecting stem cells with gay abandon, and regenerating tissue like salamanders, then what would be the use of a medical device? Surely, in 10, 20, 50, 100 years, the medical devices of today will seem barbaric in the way we look at prehistoric medical practice, mostly through the lens of one-off documentaries that show ancient skulls with massive holes in them. So what is the answer? Well, to put it one way, if medical devices and regenerative medicine were on Facebook, their relationship statuses would, without the shadow of a doubt, read its complicated.
Do I think medical devices will be replaced by regenerative medicine? No, not really; not for every existing device anyway. In fact, medical device companies must play an important role in ensuring the advancement of the field of regenerative medicine for a myriad of reasons; including but not limited to the market potential, the ability to leverage their regulatory and reimbursement knowhow, and the synergistic potential of the two fields. The undeniable truth is that medical device companies can ill afford to treat the advancement of regenerative medicine with wanton disregard; they are best served by thinking outside the box. Just to provide a particularly good example, have a gander at ViaCytes combination product, the VC-01 therapy; even if it doesn't cure type 1 diabetes in the end, it symbolizes so much potential. The co-evolution of device and therapy is an inevitability and their mutual dependence is unfolding before our eyes. In my opinion, healthcare standards, associated costs, and ultimately the standard of patient care will all benefit from the advancement of regenerative medicine, medical devices will have a role to play, and I will still have a job.
Interested in learning more? View our Spectrum report on Regenerative Medicine.