eNews Aug 31, 2021

The latest news affecting you and your customers… from the Independent Medical Specialty Dealers Association

How is COVID-19 affecting your business, your people, your customers? IMDA is a membership organization, and in times like these, we can all use some camaraderie. If you have a COVID story to share, advice to offer, or a warning to sound, send it to Mark Thill, IMDA’s communications director, at mdthill1913@gmail.com, with the subject line “IMDA COVID story.” We’ll compile them and send them back out to you.


Industry-University Cooperative

Four universities have teamed up to work with industry partners to research, develop and promote wearable devices, intended to help providers gather patient data without the patient leaving their home. Baylor College of Medicine, University of Arizona, University of Southern California and the California Institute of Technology created the Center to Stream HealthCare in Place to accelerate knowledge and intellectual property transfer between academia and industry. Their common vision? Streaming patient data to medical professionals at remote locations, establishing a mobile hub for vulnerable patients in their own home, and personalizing care coordination. The four universities created the Center through a $3 million award from the National Science Foundation’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers.

Harvard’s 3D graft for damaged eardrums

The PhonoGraft, a 3D-printed, biocompatible graft that could be implanted to repair a damaged eardrum, is entering commercial development, according to its developers, Harvard University and Mass General Brigham. If its clinical development is successful, the technology could mitigate the pain, drainage and hearing loss associated with ear drum perforations that affect millions of individuals worldwide. Members of the research team launched a startup company, Beacon Bio, which was acquired this summer by California-based Desktop Health, a developer of 3D printing and biofabrication solutions.

Mission and money clash at Cone Health

A recent article in Kaiser Health News details the difficulties health systems can face when developing new medical technologies. Cone Health, a small not-for-profit healthcare network in North Carolina, spent several years developing a smartphone-based system called Wellsmith to help people manage their diabetes. But after investing $12 million, the network shut down the company last year even though initial results were promising, with users losing weight and recording lower blood sugar levels. Although Cone executives had banked on selling or licensing Wellsmith, they concluded that too many competing products had crowded the digital health marketplace to make a dent. Eager to find new sources of revenue, hospital systems of all sizes have been experimenting as venture capitalists for healthcare startups. But the gamble at times has been harder to pull off than expected.

Speeding up technology

The FDA’s Early Feasibility Studies (EFS) program can be a critical step in device innovation. The program facilitates small clinical studies designed to gain early insights into innovative medical technology during the development process. The Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) has created a video series, “Emerging HealthTech: The MDIC Series | Early Feasibility Studies,” which explains why the FDA EFS program is so important and highlights MDIC’s work to streamline the startup of EFS in the United States, including by developing tools for sites and sponsors.

RTs look for career advancement

“A respiratory therapist looking to advance into leadership, management or educational roles within the profession will require a baccalaureate degree minimally to do so,” says Shane Keene, COO of the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, in a recent news item from the American Association for Respiratory Care. “Degree advancement programs afford respiratory therapists the ability to enter the workforce full-time and simultaneously work on an advanced degree.” There are currently 23 fully accredited degree completion programs in the U.S., 19 at the baccalaureate level and four at the master’s. One such program is said to have smashed the record in terms of the sheer volume of students. RT educators at Boise State University began their online degree advancement program in 2007 with just nine students. Today the enrollment stands at 425.

Drones as first responders

Drones can deliver automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to patients who desperately need them much faster than ambulances, according to Cardiovascular Business. New findings, presented virtually at ESC Congress 2021, included 12 different instances when drones delivered defibrillators to patients with suspected out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. In each case, a drone pilot would quickly contact an air traffic control tower and gain approval to deploy the device. Once in the air, the drone would be guided to the person in need and slowly lower a defibrillator to a waiting bystander. Ambulances were also sent at the exact same time, ensuring patients would receive care if the drone encountered an obstacle or failed to function properly. Overall, researchers reported, the AEDs were successfully delivered by drone to the waiting bystander 92% of the time and arrived before the ambulance 64% of the time. On average, the drone arrived nearly two minutes faster than the ambulance. 

Innovation saves lives!

As brigade surgeon of an Army Combat Aviation Unit in Iraq and in his subsequent work with US Army Special Operations, John Croushorn, M.D., saw soldiers die unnecessarily from internal bleeding before they could be transported to a medical facility, mostly from gunshot wounds or explosive injuries. After his return to the U.S., Croushorn worked with fellow U.S. Army physician Richard Schwartz, M.D., to devise an inflatable tourniquet that buckles around a patient’s abdomen to treat pelvic hemorrhage and severe bilateral lower junctional hemorrhage. Dr. Croushorn will share his story of discovery with IMDA and HIRA members, and talk about the role of inventors, manufacturers and distributors in saving lives, at “ROI: It’s More Than Just Money,” the 2021 IMDA/HIRA Annual Conference.