The Backtable MedTech Innovation Podcast brings you the stories from physician entrepreneurs and founders who are helping to drive healthcare forward through med tech innovation. Listen on BackTable.com or on the streaming platform of your choice. You can also visit www.BackTable.com to browse our open access, physician-catered knowledge center.
Ep. 66 Managing the Difficult Airway Through Innovation: The Adroit Surgical Story with Dr. Nilesh Vasan
In this episode, Dr. Eric Gantwerker and Dr. Nilesh Vasan, Founder/CEO of Adroit Surgical and Head & Neck Surgeon at University of Oklahoma (OU Health), discuss the development of Adroit Surgical.
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First, Dr. Vasan describes his surgical training and lifelong passion for invention. Originally from New Zealand, Dr. Vasan completed a head & neck fellowship at OU Health. His surgical experience includes private and academic practice. During his time in private practice, Dr. Vasan worked on interdisciplinary teams to manage difficult airways. He credits this experience with sparking his interest in developing better tools for intubation.
Next, Dr. Gantwerker and Dr. Vasan review the development of Adroit Surgical’s first product, the Vie-Scope. The battery-powered Vie-Scope combines superior visualization with portability to facilitate intubation across settings. Hoping to improve visualization during hand-held laryngoscopy, Dr. Vasan sketched a modified anterior commissure laryngoscope that would become the Vie-Scope. He then worked with an experienced patent attorney who helped him develop and notarize his innovation.
Then, the surgeons cover advice to building networks. A pitch competition in Oklahoma City connected Dr. Vasan with associates whose complementary expertise helped grow Adroit Surgical. Dr. Vasan then worked alongside a well-connected distributor who raised awareness of the Vie-Scope in his target markets. Today, the Vie-Scope enables successful first-pass intubation in emergent and operating room settings.
“Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore
“Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Innovation” Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
Ep. 65 Q Collar: Protecting the Brain from Impact with Taylor Rapp and Dr. Wayne Olan
In this episode, host Dr. Dana Dunleavy interviews NFL player Taylor Rapp and neurointerventional radiologist Dr. Wayne Olan about the role of the Q collar in safeguarding the brain from impact.
Taylor Rapp, a native of Washington state, pursued his college education at the University of Washington, where he also played football. He was later drafted by the LA Rams and played for them for a few years. Recently, Taylor made a move to Buffalo, NY, and now plays safety for the Buffalo Bills. He recounts his brain injury and severe concussion in 2021 while he was playing for the LA Rams. Later on, he heard about the Q collar from his agent and subsequently incorporated it into his gear in the following season.
Dr. Olan discusses the origin of the Q collar, which was initially developed in the military to protect and minimize brain movement. He highlights a study from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where the role of the Q collar was examined utilizing Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), a type of MRI technique that specifically examines the white matter tract. Within a cohort of 500 athletes, 77% of athletes who wore the Q collage showed no evidence of shear injury whereas 73% of athletes who did not wear the collar showed gray-white matter shearing injury. He further discusses the mechanism by which the Q collar protects the brain from injury. It stabilizes the brain and minimizes movement by decreasing venous return to the brain by 30%, which he compares to wearing a necktie. He makes an important distinction that the Q collar does not occlude venous return, therefore, does not have significant clinical adverse effects.
They end the episode by advocating for the significance of educating younger athletes about the risks of contact sports and enhancing safety across all sports.
Neck Collar with Mild Jugular Vein Compression Study:
Ep. 64 Redefining Surgery: Virtuoso’s Robotic Precision with Dr. Duke Herrell
In this episode, host Dr. Jose Silva speaks with Dr. Duke Herrell, CEO and CMO of Virtuoso Surgical, a robotic surgery tool known for its exceptional dexterity and precision.
Dr. Duke Herrell is a minimally invasive urologic surgeon and professor at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Herrell came to Vanderbilt for his surgical fellowship, where he met Bob Webster, a mechanical engineer who had developed concentric tube robots made out of an elastic metal. Together, they worked to form the metal into curves that could create a tentacle-like motion for clinical applications. Over the next 15 years, Dr. Herrell and three co-founders started their company, Virtuoso Surgical, and received grant funding to move forward with their startup.
The surgical device features two 1-millimeter dextrous tools inserted through a rigid scope that is capable of carrying a versatile array of instruments. The device is currently intended for the urologic procedures including removal and enucleation of prostate tissue, bladder lesion removal and sampling, and transurethral resection of bladder tumors (TURBT). Notably, the device addresses a critical issue in tumor staging by improving the accuracy of margin determination, which is a game-changer for the 50% of TURBT procedures that yield specimens lacking muscle or clear margin information. Beyond urology, the device has the potential to improve other surgical procedures that utilize a rigid scope in a constrained environment including pulmonology, neurosurgery, and ENT interventions.
Dr. Herrell and his team are also developing EndoTheia, a micromachine instrument that functions as a steerable catheter, specifically designed for flexible ureteroscopy. This device is currently in the verification and validation phase.
Ep. 63 Innovation and Evolution of Healthcare Media with Scott Becker
In this episode, hosts Dr. Aaron Fritts and Dr. Bryan Hartley interview Scott Becker, founder and publisher of Becker’s Healthcare, a media company dedicated to serving the specialized interests of healthcare leaders.
Scott's background consists of a blend between healthcare law and media. He attended Harvard Law School, where he served as a teaching assistant for many students, including young President Obama, a third year law student at the time. In his twenties, Scott worked at a large firm and specialized in healthcare law, representing surgeons and surgical centers. While working within a large law firm, he realized that he wanted to take control of his own career and subsequently transitioned to a healthcare media focus in his 30s. He brought on Jessica Cole, a college student at the time, to handle team organization and commercialization for his small newsletter. Together, they expanded into websites, newsletters, and organized conferences in Chicago. Recognizing the growing interest in these conferences, Scott expanded his team to cater to a wider customer base. Due to higher demand and larger hospital budgets, hospitals and health systems ultimately became their primary focus. After talking to target customers, they developed separate media service lines including reading and audio content.
Scott talks about the transition from brand advertising to lead generation advertising, a strategy focused on reaching the target customer and generating profits from those leads. The journalists at Becker's Healthcare generate these leads by consistently staying updated on healthcare leadership trends, evolving perspectives, and audience engagement to create personalized content and maintain their connection with the audience.
Scott and the hosts explore the challenges of artificial intelligence and Chat GPT in engaging with audiences, strategies for distinguishing a business in a media landscape inundated with information, and methods for creating highly engaging and interactive conferences. This year marks the 29th Annual ASC Conference, with hundreds of participants and notable speakers including Rob Gronkowski and Mia Hamm.
ASC Annual Conference
Becker’s Hospital Review
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Ep. 62 The Tympa Health Journey: From Clinical Challenge to Tech Solution with Dr. Krishan Ramdoo
In this episode, Dr. Gopi Shah interviews Dr. Krishan Ramdoo, CEO and founder of TympaHealth, a London-based startup that has developed an all-in-one device for hearing health assessment which incorporates otoscopy and microsuction functionalities.
Krishan is an ENT surgeon with a Ph.D. in global hearing health. In the early years of his career, while serving as a junior resident on the geriatric service, Krishan encountered a significant number of patients with undiagnosed hearing loss. He realized that this issue extended beyond just geriatric patients. Recognizing the scarcity of specialists and their lengthy waitlists, Krishan conceived the idea of developing a device to assess prevalent ear conditions such as hearing loss, cerumen impaction, and infections through a more accessible approach for primary care clinicians.
The TympaHealth device is a specialized otoscope that connects to a mobile viewing device, enabling high-definition imaging of the tympanic membrane. It also incorporates a spacing mechanism to facilitate cerumen removal with use of a standard suction probe, eliminating the need for a microscope. Additionally, the device is accompanied by headphones for accurate hearing screening assessments. TympaHealth offers a training program for healthcare clinicians to administer the service. In case of uncertainty regarding a finding, clinicians can alert a specialist for remote review and guidance with just one click. TympaHealth recently launched in the US and is currently conducting pilot studies.
Then, the hosts discuss the challenges of establishing a startup, including attracting investigators and building a diverse team. For physicians interested in entrepreneurship, Krishan highlights networking events as a way to gain insight into the commercial world and master the art of giving compelling pitches to potential investors.
AI in Clinical Medicine: Section III Ch. 24
Ep. 61 Moving the Needle: Percutaneous Treatment of Tendon Injuries with Dr. William Morrison
In this episode, Dr. Jacob Fleming interviews Dr. William Morrison, the medical director of Trace Orthopedics. Trace Orthopedics is developing a minimally invasive implantable device for tendon repairs.
William's passion for radiology traces back to his early love for art. In the initial stages of his career, he conceived the idea of a curved, steerable needle to navigate this L5-S1 space for discographies. After bringing the needle to market, its adoption was hampered by cost factors and the challenge clinicians faced in transitioning from traditional straight needles to the new design. Despite the initial challenges and disappointment with the needle's limited uptake, the product found a valuable application in celiac plexus blocks for pancreatic cancer and has shown to reduce surgical risks and complications compared to the traditional approach.
After taking several years off from his innovation journey, William’s personal experience with a partial rotator cuff tear drove him back into action. At that time, the available treatment options were strictly rehabilitation-focused, severely limiting his activity. He crafted a device in his garage using materials from Home Depot to percutaneously anchor tendons. Taking his prototype to Jefferson, where the idea gained endorsement, he proceeded to obtain a patent and established the Trace Orthopedics company. The implanted device has the ability to withstand greater force compared to commonly used suture anchors and is a minimally invasive procedure that is both efficient and single-step. William's invention has garnered interest from various medical specialties. With FDA approval in sight, the device is expected to hit the market within the next year.
During their last remarks, William addresses the persistent challenge of public awareness regarding the full scope of minimally invasive interventional practices within radiology when discussing potential investments. According to William, radiology currently stands at a critical juncture where the significance of imaging and research in driving product development has never been more crucial.
Gotta love the Julio Palmaz story!!!