The Medical Devices Group on LinkedIn held its inaugural conference in Minneapolis on April 29th and 30th. It was interesting to learn more about the issues and needs that face medical device manufacturers before they even start thinking about translation.

Like many of you who are members of LinkedIn, I am a member of far too many groups that I don’t participate in very actively. We sign up for these groups with the intention of participating in discussions and learning more about our interests…then reality strikes and you get digest fatigue or the posts are mainly masked infomercials posing as valuable content.

I can tell you that this doesn’t represent the Medical Devices Group on LinkedIn. The group includes over 175,000 members making it the largest medical device community in the world. More importantly, this is a vibrant community with very active and meaningful discussions. Based on this, I had to attend the inaugural conference to see why this group was so different from the others I participated in.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as first time conferences are not typically very good. I had to get up at 3:45 AM to make an early flight out of Chicago so that I could catch the keynote presentation A Washington Update for the Medical Device Industry. I was not disappointed. This was a discussion led by conference organizer Joe Hage with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN03) along with John Eckberg (Director of Media Relations, Cook Group) and Stephan Ogilvie (VP of Corporate Development, NuVasive) as panelists. If you join the LinkedIn group you can view part of the discussion here. It is important to note that the group led the charge against the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices via this web site/online petition.

The rest of the conference was also very good. I especially enjoyed these sessions:

How to navigate healthcare reform and win in America – presented by Linda Rouse O’Neill from HIDA

Linda had some interesting observations on pressures facing hospitals and healthcare providers that actually present opportunities for medical device manufacturers and service providers.

China: The Dragon in the roompresented by Ames Gross from Pacific Bridge Medical

Ames provided some interesting information about the Chinese market.

    • 2nd largest economy in the world (after the US)
    • Per capita income $2,200 in the countryside; $6,000 in major cities
    • Healthcare spending in China is relatively low as compared to other countries (4.5% of GDP).
    • In 2012 China’s medical device market was larger than the market in France, the UK or Italy.

Latin America: Your untapped potential – presented by Mario Martinez, Tecnix

Mario’s presentation was incredibly entertaining. He had a great sense of humor and provided very valuable information on the different challenges faced in the various countries in Latin America.

Mobilization & Miniaturization: What are you doing about it? – Sailesh Chutani, Mobisante

This was a very interesting presentation by the co-founder of the company. Sailesh discussed the company’s innovative product MobiUS™SP1 system, the world’s first smartphone-based ultrasound imaging system. The company has also created a tablet-based product.

I found the conference to be very well-organized. The Medical Devices Group staff was incredibly helpful and the conference was a great investment of my time. I made some great friends and some important contacts and look forward to next year’s conference.

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