Unlimited Abilities: A View from the MedtechVision Conference


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the increasing scrutiny of the FDA and payers is seriously compromising innovation by raising the cost of getting to the same result, even when the result is of benefit to the healthcare system. It was a sobering message from those who have demonstrated great leadership and success in their field and particularly interesting given the number of FDA, payer and related representatives in the audience. The private equity representatives in the audience clearly agreed about the challenges facing the field and several told me that they were dialing back their investments in medtech as a result. One can only hope that this set of issues serves as a catalyst for further dialogue among the parties rather than the beginning of a downward spiral of medtech innovation in America.

At the culmination of the conference I spoke to lead organizer Amy Belt, Director of Covidien Ventures, who noted that it had been such a success that it would likely be repeated next year. She had kicked off the conference by saying it was an opportunity to answer the question, “Why would it make any sense for women NOT to be significantly represented in leadership positions where key decisions are made about the delivery of care and investment in innovation, when women represent half the population, control the healthcare dollar, and provide the majority of healthcare services?”

The many female CEO’s who attended the meeting concurred that the forum had been notable for its quality and unique for its attendees. Angela MacFarlane, President & CEO of Forsight Labs, said that while she doesn’t normally participate in the “women thing,” it was notable to see so many accomplished peers that she hadn’t known previously. “I realized that my network is not this network. I talk to my peers, mostly male, and I realize that while we’re all the same, we do describe and view things through different frameworks.”

Ferolyn Powell, former President & CEO of Evalve (now a division of Abbott Vascular, where Powell currently serves as Vice President & General Manager of the Structural Heart Division) added, “It’s not better to have a women-focused event, but it is different. There is a different energy and flow of ideas when people share something in common. Diversity is great, but it is also great for women to connect with people like them. Hopefully we won’t need this conference 20 years from now, but it was great to give women a voice-not to talk about women things, but to talk about important things.”

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Lisa Suennen is a managing director with GE Ventures and former managing member of the Psilos Group, as well as the co-author of Tech Tonics: Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare With Technology? and author of the blog Venture Valkyrie. Follow @venturevalkyrie

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  • Jaimee Mayne

    Being a women studying Biomedical Engineering and a leader of Women in Engineering at Swinburne University of Technology Melbourne, Australia, I am extreamly pleased to hear about a Women run Medtech group.

    I have been to Medtech conferences in Australia and loved every minute of it. It didn’t bother me being at a male dominated conference, but I can’t even imagin being at a all women conference.

    I am currently studing my 3rd year, and looking at a 12 month work experience in America. I am extreamly motivated and passionate about Medtech and would love to hear from anyone.

    I specalise in combining physiology and electronics with skills in signal processing, biosences and other technical skills. I also have great leadership and communication skills.