The Future of MedTech Leadership: Where Product, Technology and Clinical Evidence Intersect

Technology and InnovationIndustry TrendsTransformation InnovationHealthcareTechnologyBoard and CEO AdvisoryTechnology, Data, and DigitalExecutive SearchCEO SuccessionC-Suite SuccessionTeam Effectiveness
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Stacy Braun
December 06, 2022
5 min read
Technology and InnovationIndustry TrendsTransformation InnovationHealthcareTechnologyBoard and CEO AdvisoryTechnology, Data, and DigitalExecutive SearchCEO SuccessionC-Suite SuccessionTeam Effectiveness
Executive Summary
We sat down with Nabil Shabshab to dive deeper into the changes that are occurring in the connected devices landscape and what it means for future leaders.
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The future of patient care is migrating from acute settings to the home and the pandemic served to accelerate the uptake of a disruptive segment of MedTech – connected devices. These devices enable remote physiologic monitoring, providing decision support for patients managing their disease or remote therapeutic care, and serve to enhance patient-provider communications while improving outcomes.

 

Inogen is a MedTech company offering innovative respiratory products for use in the homecare setting. The company is executing on its transformation journey by instilling clinically-informed discipline in innovation, product development practices and go-to-market strategy. Inogen has an integrated innovation strategy focused on expanding collaboration with health care practitioners and technology experts to develop clinical solutions that support patients, enhance market position and drive value for shareholders.

Between the increased acceptance of these technologies and the nature of the product portfolios including smart devices, software and services, the skillsets and competencies for future CEOs of connected device companies is evolving. Increasingly, the route to the top will be at the intersection of product, technology, and clinical evidence. This unique blend has become a powerful flywheel propelling MedTech companies forward through continued innovation and growth.

Russell Reynolds Associates sat down with Nabil Shabshab, Chief Executive Officer at Inogen Inc., to dive deeper into the changes that are occurring in the MedTech landscape and what it means for the future leaders in MedTech.

What is the connected device organization?

Increasingly, MedTech organizations are orienting their product portfolio towards connected devices with value-added services. In turn, innovation and product development disciplines are becoming more complex and should evolve from their traditional approach (Figure 1).

Flywheel of MedTech product innovation

 

This evolution can be characterized in the following areas:

  • leveraging device data, analytics, and (in some instances) algorithms to optimize the functionality of a medical device in real time, necessitating a complementary, but often nascent data strategy, including data acquisitions, integration, mining and data sciences;
  • evolving role of software and firmware in support of “value-add” components of the overall offering. Future optimal device performance moves beyond feature-functionality and focuses on how the innovation will lighten the burdens on patients managing their diseases. Release cycles accelerate and are more informed, fueled by constant streams of patient data providing clinical evidence.  As a result, “next generation” devices are no longer restricted to designing and commercializing a new product. New release cycles are not only “new and improved”, but also propelled by the clinical evidence, and further enhanced through the performance of digital health and value-add elements;
  • understanding how the technology, clinical evidence, and regulatory pathways differ from the traditional standalone device and can be more complex regardless of the overall offering providing “decision support” or “closed loop” functionality;
  • strategizing around securing reimbursement and in doing so clearing the hurdle around potential clinical and / or HEOR evidence for a device plus value-added service, which inherently is a higher overall bar.

As a result of organizations orienting more towards connected devices, their talent needs are changing. Together with Mr. Shabshab, Russell Reynolds uncovered what this digital transformation means for the future product, technology, and clinical leaders and the future MedTech CEO.

 

New product innovation & the chief product officer

The connected device space—with its increased use of SaaS, data, analytics, and AI—is pulling from the tech industry to define its product function. Traditionally considered a product management role with an ability to segment markets and bring the voice of the customer to R&D organizations, the connected device product function has become more refined.

quote

Product leaders bring highly systematized thinking, a basic threshold of technical knowledge, and a market sensing capability to push the team on the art of what is possible.

– Stacy Braun, RRA

 

Product leaders bring highly systematized thinking, a basic threshold of technical knowledge, and a market sensing capability to push the team on the art of what is possible. Not only do these leaders consider what to build and why, they must also be well-versed in their organization’s business model, including the rationale on what to release today versus in three or four quarters. These leaders establish the right framework for customer feedback and are relentless about creating monetizable value from data and digital health services.

 

Technology innovation and the chief technology officer

The chief technology officer serves to balance the lenses of technology, regulatory, quality and commercial requirements. These leaders oversee the different innovation variables, how they move together and ways in which to enhance their offerings’ interconnected nature. They develop the framework that creates a high functioning R&D organization, with a focus on meeting customer demands, regulatory requirements, and high quality standards. Technology leaders develop and execute the technology roadmap and serve as the lynchpin for all engineering (mechanical, electrical, sensors, etc.) and software (mobile app, cloud, AI, etc.) functions. Increasingly, as connected device companies move to a more consumer-centric experience, R&D organizations are working in tandem to provide more rapid care delivery, enabling a bespoke customer experience.

 

Strategic clinical and regulatory inputs and the chief medical officer

Today, new product requirements are much more clinically-oriented. The chief medical officer is vital in helping the broader leadership team understand the clinical strategy and how it plays into the broader product roadmap. Strategic leaders of medical affairs ensure that a clinical voice is present —although not overwhelming— at the table. That voice is utilized to develop capabilities or behaviors that will clinically validate the product, including implications for regulatory clearances. Given that an organization must anticipate what the FDA will ask about a device’s risk management and clinical benefits, chief medical officers help translate those variables to the engineering team with an eye toward health, economic, and outcome research, as well as reimbursement strategy.

 

The future CEO of connected device organizations

 
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Evolving needs in the C-suite are paving the way for future connected device CEOs to have a different upbringing and leadership opportunities than their pre-pandemic counterparts.

– Nabil Shabshab

The future connected device CEO will need a combined skillset of product, technology, clinical, and commercial acumen, as well as the ability to collaborate and culturally unite these teams. Successful leaders have the right integrative mindset and a high degree of learning agility, as well as an appreciation for how these functions are motivated and structured. CEOs who are able to create a vision and build momentum behind the necessary flywheel will be able to master the challenges associated with both rapid innovation and the organizational transformation that ensues. Effective CEOs in this space embrace the evolving business model and drive value creation while creating strong followership around a long-term strategy.

Connected devices and digital health have been part of the evolving business model for the last 10 years. After a pandemic-induced acceleration, home care and the use of connected devices are now widely accepted across the healthcare industry. This set off a trend of evolving needs in C-suite, paving the way for future connected device CEOs with demonstrably different backgrounds to embrace a new set of leadership opportunities.

 


 

Authors

Stacy Braun is a senior member of Russell Reynolds Associates’ Medical Devices, Tools and Diagnostics practice. She is based in New York.
Victoria Fibig is a member of Russell Reynolds Associates’ Healthcare knowledge management team. She is based in New York.
Sarah Flören leads Russell Reynolds Associates’ Healthcare knowledge management team. She is based in Amsterdam.

We would like to thank Nabil Shabshab and Inogen for their valuable insights and collaboration on this important leadership topic.