Recovery from breast cancer can be a difficult journey, both physically and emotionally. An important part of recovery from the trauma of cancer diagnosis is to be able to put the entire experience in the rear view mirror, so to speak. But it’s hard to do that if you have a daily reminder in the form of a disfiguring scar.
It was once common for surgeons to focus solely on removing a breast cancer tumor with little regard for the appearance of the breast. But we now know we can deliver excellent cosmetic outcomes without compromising oncologic safety. There have been tremendous advances in the past 20 years in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer that enable us to help our patients look and feel better after breast cancer.
It will come as no surprise to medical device startups that the funding climate in medical devices is still challenging. We talked recently with two experts who come to this question with two different perspectives.
– Alice McKeon is VP Healthcare Investment Banking at Network 1 Financial, which is based in Red Bank, N.J.
– Dan Clark is a Cofounder and the Chief Marketing Officer at Linear Health Sciences, makers of the Orchid Safety Release Valve.
The power and policies emanating from Washington DC are on the minds of many people these days. How will the Trump Administration affect the investment climate in medical devices?
Many drivers have experienced the kind of fender-bender or sudden stop that made them glad they were wearing a seat belt. But a seatbelt can only protect us from so much — which is why airbags and more advanced safety approaches were invented.
To use another auto analogy, think of the breakaway hoses at gas stations pumps. They prevent the full hose from being pulled out of the pump when an absent-minded driver drives away without removing the nozzle from the gas tank.
With something like 300 million peripheral IV lines sold in U.S. each year – and a failure rate that’s often cited as being 50% – researchers continue to try to understand a problem that’s a daily headache in vascular access and infusion therapy.
Common causes of line failure are dislodgement, infection, thrombosis, phlebitis and occlusion. Peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) and central venous catheters (CVCs) tend to be better secured than peripheral IVs, but they are also subject to high failure rates.
When a company comes up with something better, it typically wants a high profile for the technology. But it’s not always the case with Focal Therapeutics.
That’s because the company recently launched a low-profile version of the BioZorb® implant used in breast conservation treatment (BCT).
Focal’s new BioZorb LP (for “low-profile”) design means more women who need breast cancer surgery could benefit from the implantable device. BioZorb is used in “reconstructive lumpectomy” and other types of BCT. It marks in three dimensions the site from which a breast tumor is removed.
The BioZorb LP device is designed to be implanted in smaller breasts, peripheral areas of the breast, and locations with less tissue coverage.
Every time the US Preventive Services Task Force issues a recommendation about when women should start getting mammograms – and how often they should have these screenings – it sends shockwaves through the breast-cancer world.
This last time was no different.
But now two influential breast cancer experts assert that – as important as the debate is – it misses an essential point about evaluating a woman’s individual risk of getting breast cancer.
Those experts – Dallas breast surgeon Dr. Peter Beitsch and Nashville breast surgeon Dr. Pat Whitworth – say the key question is how to evaluate “risk.”
Among the many ways the Affordable Care Act tries to drive down healthcare costs is through Accountable Care Organizations.
Just what are ACOs? HMOs in drag? And are they working?
Here’s how we see the ACO landscape today:
Although their launch has been somewhat troubled, Accountable Care Organizations are here to stay.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is driving the adoption of ACOs, with some private payers joining in.
Data collection and analysis hold out the promise of reducing inefficiencies.
ACOs don’t take on a lot of risk if they can avoid it. That in turn will affect how much money they can actually save the healthcare system.
In a related development, some payers – including a new industry alliance – are looking closely at the role of health insurance third-party administrators (TPAs), to see if further cost can be taken out of the system there.
What Is an ACO?
First, a bit about terminology. While ACOs undertake some responsibility for the cost of delivering care, they are not “all in,” as are HMOs. (For a good video explaining ACOs, see this from Kaiser Health News.)
Breast cancer care continues to see remarkable growth in knowledge of the disease and advances in treatment. That was certainly evident at the recent School of Oncoplastic Surgery (SOS), in Dallas last month.
The school, which was founded by breast surgeon Gail Lebovic, M.D. with a grant from the Mary Kay Ash Foundation, recently had its eighth annual session in Dallas. This year’s session was sponsored by the National Consortium of Breast Centers and the American Society of Breast Disease Clinical Track.
Among the highlights of that three-day training workshop was a talk by Julie Reiland, MD, FACS. An SOS faculty member, Dr. Reiland is a breast surgeon at Avera Medical Group Comprehensive Breast Care, in Sioux Falls, SD. Speaking to a packed room at SOS, Dr. Reiland talked about the convergence of oncoplastic surgery and intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).
Ambulatory surgery centers face plenty of financial (some might even say “existential”) challenges. Among these are a tightening reimbursement environment, competition from hospital systems, and high health insurance deductibles.
Nonetheless, breast cancer care is emerging as a bright spot for ASCs, including two centers we talked with recently.
In a large New York City surgery center, for example, breast care helps lead the way. In an Arkansas center, transparent pricing and use of a relatively new surgical marker called BioZorb are part of the story.
Among the many improvements in the care of women who have breast cancer, one of the most promising is oncoplastic surgery.
This approach combines methods to remove cancer with reconstructive techniques to insure complete tumor control. At same time it achieves better aesthetic outcomes.
This month’s upcoming School of Oncoplastic Surgery will help surgeons develop new skills they can use when performing breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) on patients with breast cancer. The three-day course will be held Jan. 22-24, 2016 in Dallas.
The course provides a spectrum of skills for attendees. Through a sculpture lab, anatomy lab and interaction with live models, surgeons learn essential tools with hands-on experiences. Panel discussions and case presentations also allow surgeons to openly discuss challenges they face in their practices, and to learn various ways to address complex clinical situations in cancer care.
The founder and leader of the school is Dr. Gail Lebovic. She’s a past president of the American Society of Breast Disease, recipient of several distinguished awards and the inventor of multiple successful medical technologies in women’s healthcare.