Every year, TCT (Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics), the world’s foremost educational meeting specializing in interventional cardiology, brings together thousands of attendees from around the world to share the newest clinical and scientific information, therapies, and techniques. This year offered exceptional value to attendees with the addition of the newly launched TCT MedTech Innovation Forum, a day-long event that convened stakeholders from across the medtech ecosystem to explore the dynamics shaping future of innovation like enabling new technologies, population health trends, and the financial climate.
The brainchild of Fogarty Innovation CEO Andrew Cleeland and Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) president and CEO Juan Granada, MD, the sold-out event was attended by more than 1,300 health professionals, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The TCT MedTech Innovation Forum took place on September 16, the first day of TCT, in Boston.
A focus on innovation and emerging trends
Andrew, Dr. Granada and Martin Leon, MD, kicked off the first session, “Shaping Innovation Priorities: Global Demographic and Population Health Trends,” which featured industry luminaries such as Jane Leopold, MD, director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate profession at Harvard Medical School; Reza Mohebi, MD, Barry Fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital; and Valentin Fuster, MD, Ph.D., director of Mount Sinai Heart and physician-in-chief of the Mount Sinai Hospital.
Additional sessions covered topics critical to the medtech industry, including transformative technologies and emerging models of healthcare delivery, financial markets and priorities, and challenges in healthcare innovation. Speakers in these interactive panel discussions included Dr. Robert Califf, MD, FDA commissioner, Lisa Earnhardt, executive vice president of medical devices at Abbott; Mark Galletti, managing director and founder of Longitude Capital; Mike Mahoney, CEO of Boston Scientific; and Allan Will, executive chairman of EBR Systems and Fogarty Innovation board member; among many others. Dr. Califf also delivered the keynote address.
“This event was in response to the need we saw to bring a diverse group of professionals together for an open and interactive discussion to address some of the key obstacles to advancing innovation in the ecosystem,” said Andrew. “We were very pleased to see such a high level of engagement and genuine interest in collaborating to move the industry forward.”
“We have always explored new technologies and innovation from the physician’s perspective,” said Dr. Granada. “This forum was an opportunity to address the earlier, more fundamental aspects of innovation – the entrepreneurial and business constraints that determine whether or not new solutions make it into patient care.”
An emphasis on preventative healthcare and education
One of the themes that resonated throughout the day was the need to refocus innovation from treating chronic diseases to preventing them. “Most medtech companies are looking at treatments for the end-of-life stages but the industry really needs to do a better job at addressing how to prevent disease by focusing on populations between infancy and the age of 40,” recounts Marga Ortigas-Wedekind, FI chief commercial strategy officer and a member of the event’s program management team. “If you create healthy habits from the get-go and make a big push to educate young people to lead a healthier lifestyle, that will pay off in the long run in terms of reduced heart disease, diabetes, and more.”
Dr. Fuster raised the idea of offering incentives such as tax breaks or subsidizing fresh produce for populations that don’t have access or the financial means, and ensuring that organizations such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) work in tandem with the FDA to give physicians access to preventative diagnostic technologies. Dr. Califf echoed this in his keynote when he observed, “(The U.S. is) inventing the technology that the rest of the world has figured out how to use better to improve outcomes and longevity.”
Misinformation: a growing threat to a healthy public
Another trend shared by Commissioner Califf was the role that misinformation plays in undermining healthcare. “Misinformation is now the leading cause of death,” he stated, citing current data that suggested more than 300 lives a day can still be saved had the population universally followed the FDA’s approval of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. “Dr. Califf said that whenever the FDA clears or approves a therapy or technology, it’s immediately second-guessed by people who opine online, often spreading misinformation and doing a great disservice to the population at large,” recalls Allie Gregorian, FI chief alliance officer and a member of the event’s program management team.
And this is not for lack of spending. In fact, the U.S. spent more than $4 trillion on healthcare, or almost 20% of its GDP in 2020, and yet our life expectancy is in the bottom half of measures comparing leading industrialized countries. While we are spending a lot of money, the incentives aren’t aligned in terms of earlier, preventative care. “We need to look at the lifelong journey of care, not just the index procedure,” explained Dr. Leon, adding that it is essential we look at the bigger picture of what causes the patients to reach the critical state of a disease, forcing an intervention, and what happens after they are treated.
Understanding the evolving healthcare ecosystem
This is particularly important as a lot of treatments now take place outside of the hospital, thanks to telemedicine and treatments that can be conducted in the comfort of one’s home — referred to as “asynchronous” medicine. “Hospital at home is the wave of the future and cardiologists have to understand their patients where they live every day,” shared Dr. Peter Fitzgerald, one of the moderators.
The consensus was that there’s too much focus placed on the end stage of life. The healthcare ecosystem needs to work together to look at the broader picture of a patient’s entire lifespan and recognize where the system breaks down. This includes bringing together and collaborating with the payers, providers, policymakers and the patients to ensure everyone is speaking the same language and working towards combating some of these challenges.
In the session focused on financing trends, panelists sharing good news, including strong investment in early-stage companies led by non-invasive monitoring and drug delivery technologies.
The forum also provided a much-needed opportunity to interact and network in person, which was a welcome change following the pandemic. “It was very refreshing and productive to reconnect in person with former colleagues and friends, in a casual setting,” said John Morriss, Fogarty Innovation director of invention acceleration.
“The caliber of speakers and number of attendees really testifies to the importance of having these open conversations and fixing a system that has a lot of room for improvement,” added Mike Regan, Fogarty Innovation Chief Innovation Officer. “That’s why it’s so important to bring key players together to determine how we move forward.”
CRF and Fogarty Innovation are already in discussion on future collaborations, which include next year’s TCT event, scheduled for October 23 to 27, 2023, in San Francisco.