I was spending the day with a client focused on developing anti-biofilm and anti-infective coatings for medical devices. We were meeting with an academic who had some 20 years ago developed a proprietary technology for modifying surface properties of catheters.
Without going into details, the technology reduced infection rates. It had already been licensed and used within the neuro-surgical field. Some 8 years after market launch it has been used in over 700,000 patients. Infection rates post-procedure have dropped by around 6%. This means, as a direct result of this technology, around 42,000 fewer patients around the world have suffered from potentially life threatening CNS infections.
Think about that for a minute. 42,000 lives that have been touched by this technology. It’s used across all age groups – so 42,000 sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, fathers or mothers.
The academic inventor behind the technology couldn’t have been more modest. Over an hour and half, he methodically and patiently went through the story of how he’d developed the technology; one insight leading to the next. He answered questions, we got into discussions about potential follow-on applications, patents, clinical study design, next projects and longer-term goals.
We finished up around 6.30 pm. A little small-talk and agreement by both sides to follow-up. By the time I jumped in the car, it was dark and raining. On the 1 hour drive home, through the night and rain, I couldn’t help thinking – how many lives have I helped? How many could I help? One day, if I can make even half this impact…
Sure, I’ve written here before about medtech innovators – inventors and entrepreneurs – that have touched millions of lives. These have included references to Thomas Fogarty – inventor behind the embolectomy catheter, John Abele – founder of Boston Scientific, Bill Cook – founder of Cook Medical and serial medtech entrepreneur, Alfred Mann. While these stories are amazing case histories, for me they were gained by reading or listening at conferences.
But today was the first time I sat across the table from such an innovator and realized the power of what we can do.
This post is by Raman Minhas.