When scaling a mountain, never look down. It’s a simple lesson I learned while climbing as a kid in Norway. To focus on the objective and not let anything hold you back.
I think about this often in my current role as the leader of a medical device business. It’s incredible to see how innovation has driven the science of human health to new heights, new users and new uses – helping clinicians save lives like never before. From 4D ultrasound scans that reduce the need for exploratory surgery, to digital-adaptive incubators that help severely-preterm babies survive, the possibilities are breath-taking.
Yet health care is being held back by high costs and increasing complexity. That can change. By focusing more on people, products and partnerships, we can impact every life in every setting around the world.
1) Focus more on patients and caregivers.
Ropes and harnesses don’t climb mountains – people do.
In the same way, medical technology does not heal people; people heal people. It is tempting to focus on the latest gadgets and medical technology buzz. Yet health care is and will always be a people-first endeavor. In fact, not just clinicians, but also patients increasingly expect more control and more options in their own care.
Think about a patient’s first touch in their medical experience – maybe a nurse, a physician, an emergency technician or even a midwife. Today, these first touches are mobile and more accessible, happening outside the four walls of a hospital. A primary care physician in Japan stows a hand-held ultrasound in his backpack and jet-skis directly to his patients. And clinicians in India walk ultra-rugged ECG systems into rural environments to reach cardiac patients where they live.
2) Focus more on simple, effective and affordable products.
The best route up a mountain is often the simplest one.
The world’s finest climbing kit won’t help if it is too complex, expensive or time-consuming to use. It is the same with health care: for with incredible technology comes incredible patient impact, but also often unsustainable costs or slower and more complicated patient care.
That’s why the future of health care will be fast, simple and affordable solutions that drive tangible outcomes for patients and providers alike. U.S. doctors tap into nutrition algorithms to map the caloric needs of intensive care patients, cutting days off average length-of-stay and saving millions. And surgeons worldwide use data analytics and advanced ultrasound guidance to reduce unnecessary needle sticks by 70 percent – to their patients’ delight!*
3) Focus more on partnerships that drive tangible outcomes.
There is a reason climbers rarely tackle a mountain solo.
The three questions I always ask before climbing a mountain are: which peak; when to climb; and with whom. The third question – with whom – is vital for the future of health care as well. With purpose and humility, my team is now exploring these new partnerships between providers and technology companies that will drive new and better outcomes.
National governments in Africa partner with NGOs to train midwives on mobile ultrasound, which may impact maternal and infant mortality rates. And researchers from the public and private sector cooperate to make science fiction a reality – including wireless “Band-Aid” sensors that may one day remotely analyze patients’ sweat, heart rate and blood oxygen levels 24-7.
By focusing more on people, offering simple effective products, and finding ways to partner for better health – we can keep climbing, not look down and reach the peak.
*Bench Evaluation of Ultrasound Needle Guidance Technology (NGT) Accuracy on the Venue 50 Ultrasound System. Study compared use of Pinpoint GT technology from C.R. Bard to conventional needle guidance.