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Urology
December 4th, 2014

From my desk: How growing patient populations drives innovation in medical devices


If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there’s only so much time in the day. That makes time a precious resource, perhaps nowhere more so than in healthcare. This wouldn’t be a problem if there were a limited number of patients a day that needed a procedure done in the operating room. We all know that’s not the case, and some recent data shows that it’s not going to change any time soon. A CDC report suggests that the population of Americans over the age of 65 will double by 2030.

Creissel_Jean_Marc_02_13-13818_2014-11-13_125327An equally important challenge when discussing patient populations is the exponential growth of the global insured population. Many of these new patients may not have access to the type of modern hospital that the Western world is used to. So, there is also a huge need to provide technologies that can be used in simpler settings to reach some of these developing areas.

Both of these growing patient populations will place additional strain on the healthcare system. More patients will need to be treated in the same amount of time, expecting the same (if not better) outcomes. And we are all experiencing the need to eliminate cost from the system. All this, plus the fact that we’ll have fewer urologists in the coming years, adds up to a troubling picture.

This is always in my mind as I work with the Urology Product Management team to develop new products. These days, our top-priority projects are designed not only to solve clinical problems, but also to contain the cost of the overall procedure. We are also looking for ways to bring our devices to simpler treatment environments to better serve patients everywhere.

Examples of this can be seen in our latest products. One is our Flexor® Parallel™, which gives physicians the option to use only one wire guide as both a working wire and a safety wire when placing a ureteral access sheath. Another is LithAssist®, which frees up an assistant in the operating room during percutaneous stone extraction procedures by placing control of the suction in the physician’s hands. A third is Flexor® Vue™, a cost effective endoscopic option for healthcare facilities that don’t have access to more expensive scope technology or are limited by reprocessing capabilities.

We are proud of these cost- and time-saving features, because it’s these which will contribute to address the new global medical challenges. Unconventional treatment environments require innovative solutions, which we are working hard to provide.

Containing the cost of healthcare is critical to building a sustainable industry. We can’t add more hours to the day, but hopefully we can help make those hours more efficient and less expensive so healthcare can keep up with its growing patient populations.

Jean-Marc Creissel
Vice President of Cook Medical’s Urology division