The Evolution of Thought Leadership in the MedTech Industry: Insights from Jeff Jones

In the rapidly advancing world of medical technology, establishing credibility and trust is paramount. And one of the best ways to establish that credibility is to seek—and follow—the advice of prominent experts in a particular medtech field. Combined with a strategic public relations strategy, such key opinion leaders (KOLs) can then help raise awareness and provide an invaluable validation of a technology’s importance and value. Together, thought leaders and PR experts enable businesses to gain media exposure, present results at scientific meetings, and secure speaking engagements at industry conferences, thus raising the companies’ visibility and credibility.

Jeffrey Jones, Managing Partner at The Deerborne Group, a global diagnostics and life sciences consulting firm, has learned the importance of key opinion leaders over the course of a long and successful career at both Fortune 500 companies like Abbott, Bayer, and Quest Diagnostics and venture-backed startups like Agendia, which offers genomic testing for breast cancers. Here are his insights:

Thought Leadership: Shaping credibility and trust

In his years at major corporations, Jones says he’s “worked for some incredible leaders, and also a couple of knuckleheads.” He started off in sales at Abbott, “carrying a bag in a small little territory in Northern California,” he recalls. Thereafter, he worked his way up to various    product marketing and sales leadership roles and eventually to senior executive commercial and GM roles.

Along the way, he learned three key lessons about leadership. Leaders must make sure every single person on their teams is successful. They need to be comfortable knowing that they aren’t always going to be popular among the troops. And they must realize they don’t have all the answers. Instead, “you hire really smart people and then you listen to them,” Jones says.

Jeffrey Jones, Managing Partner at The Deerborne Group

But not until he got involved with Agendia did Jones truly understand the importance of thought leaders and public relations. “When I first got there, Agendia needed a great deal of help,” he recalls. The big problem: the company had a product the industry didn’t want.

So, Jones hired an experienced PR firm, Dowling & Dennis, and, yes, he listened to them. Their advice: Go out to key opinion leaders and ask them what they really wanted. That feedback was priceless. “The interviews with key opinion leaders ended up dramatically changing the trajectory of Agendia,” Jones says.

Now as managing partner of The Deerborne Group, Jones actively cultivates experts and reporters as a key part of his work for a variety of clients, guided by the expertise of Dowling & Dennis.

Jones cites his recent experience of conducting a survey among corporate leaders in liquid biopsy at this year’s meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He was able to write up the results of his KOL survey and will be presenting it at an international scientific meeting in Spain, which he expects will earn even more recognition from the press, from researchers, and from clinicians.

“My team and I go out and find who the KOLs are and whom they influence,” he explains. It’s not rocket science, he adds, “but it is hard and takes years.” Yet it must be done for a company to be truly successful, he argues. “Key opinion leaders can make or break a drug, medical device or diagnostic test.”

“Key opinion leaders can make or break a drug, medical device or diagnostic test.”

Jeffrey Jones

Adapting to modern communication channels

Identifying key opinion leaders and taking advantage of their advice is only part of the challenge, however. The other fundamental element is getting out the right messages, which means developing an effective media strategy. So when Jones goes to conferences, “I make sure to meet the press and nurture those relationships,” he says. That effort brings results. “We’re probably in at least one article a quarter right now,” he says.

It’s also important to harness the power of social media, Jones says. The Deerborne Group was quick to jump on Facebook, Twitter (now X), and LinkedIn, he says. But a young digital marketing intern that Jones hired pointed out that young physicians didn’t grow up on Facebook or even LinkedIn or Twitter. Instead, their social media of choice is Instagram. So, Jones created an Instagram page. “Like I said, I try to hire and surround myself with people that are smarter than me,” Jones says.

Driving innovation

Jones’ expects is that key opinion leaders will play increasingly important roles in the future. They don’t just guide companies’ current decisions and technologies, he explains, they also drive innovation within the industry. As a result, companies that recognize the value of thought leadership and that are able leverage PR initiatives will be those that lead the medtech industry of tomorrow.

In Controversy over Transducer Disinfection, Intersocietal PoSITION Statement Earns Broad Support

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the adoption of point-of-care (POC) ultrasound to improve patient care across a wide variety of medical specialties, including cardiology, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, vascular access, and more. But the rapid dissemination of POC ultrasound among new medical specialties, combined with conflicting guidance from clinical organizations, has led to widespread confusion about the infection control practices appropriate for POC ultrasound equipment.

In this blog post, we examine the rise of POC ultrasound, the controversy and confusion surrounding transducer disinfection practices, and the details behind a 2021 Intersocietal Position Statement that provides some much-needed clarity on the topic.

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Knowledge is Power – Why you should #KnowYourBiomarker

Republished with permission from the blog of AJ Patel. This is the second post in a series on advances in genomic testing and the future of cancer treatment — see the first post here.

When I was diagnosed 8 years ago with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), I was told I had 6 months to live. It was the worst time of my life, and I wallowed in misery for nearly a week before I decided I needed to take action. I turned to the internet, which at first did nothing to alleviate my misery. But then I stumbled upon the patient advocacy organization LUNGevity and made a phone call that changed the trajectory of my entire diagnosis.

​That one call—and the connections and information that came out of it—are the reason I’m alive today.

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Breaking Down Barriers – Improving Access to Comprehensive Biomarker Testing for Cancer Patients

This is the first in a series on advances in genomic testing and the future of cancer treatment.

The last two decades have brought remarkable advances in cancer treatment with the use of precision medicine. Twenty years ago, the major weapon doctors had against most advanced cancers was a harsh regimen of chemotherapy — a one-size-fits-all treatment that leaves patients debilitated while offering limited survival.

The shift to more targeted treatments began after researchers discovered that many cancers are driven by mutations in specific genes. This was most robustly exemplified in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Pharmaceutical companies have now developed more than two dozen drugs for patients with NSCLC that directly target specific genes and mutations, leading to better overall outcomes.

The impact of these advances “has been enormous,” says Dr. Wendy Levin, Chief Medical Officer at Biofidelity, a cancer diagnostic company. “If we can get a patient on a targeted agent that’s more effective and better tolerated, we know that they will have a major survival advantage.”

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Is it Time to Move Beyond CLABSI?

When it comes to infection control in vascular access, central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) certainly get the most attention. Yet the medical community is increasingly recognizing how infections associated with other types of vascular access devices are putting patients at risk.

Take peripheral IV (PIV) catheters, the most commonly used type of vascular access device. Nearly 90 percent of hospitalized patients require a PIV at some point during their stay, and PIV usage far outnumbers that of central vascular access devices (CVAD). PIVs, therefore, account for an infection rate that approaches the CVAD infection rate in absolute terms.

Yet there is currently no mandatory reporting system for bloodstream infections associated with PIVs in the U.S., making it one of the most underreported types of infections in vascular access. Epidemiologist Robert Garcia, an infection preventionist with 40 years of hospital experience, shares these concerns — and he has a plan to address this significant patient safety issue.

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2021 INS Standards Highlight Anti-Reflux Technology for Needleless Connectors

Guest post by Nancy Moureau, RN, PhD, CEO of PICC Excellence

In vascular access, needleless connectors (NC) are now recommended worldwide to maintain closed IV systems and promote safety by preventing needlestick injuries. Over the past 25 years, many different NCs have come onto the market, with wide variations in design and function among the various types. As a result, there is a lot of confusion among clinicians regarding the proper use and management of these small yet complex devices, which can have serious patient safety implications.

Fortunately, the Infusion Nurses Society provides some clarity on this issue by significantly expanding its guidance on NCs in the 2021 Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice. This includes clearer definitions of the various types of NC technology and emphasizes the importance of understanding how to use each type properly to minimize blood reflux.

Many clinicians are not aware of the impact blood reflux can have, or view it as a minor issue that can be easily addressed with proper flushing. However, evidence is mounting that reflux is largely avoidable and leads to many complications that seriously impact patient safety.

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UGPIV Practices: Are they jeopardizing patient safety?

A new continuing education program details how a lack of standardized policies related to ultrasound-guided peripheral IV (UGPIV) catheter insertions can negatively impact patient safety. The webinar also suggests UGPIV performance improvement initiatives that “can help to create a culture of safety across the healthcare continuum,” according to presenter Nancy Moureau, RN, PhD, an internationally recognized expert and consultant in vascular access and CEO of PICC Excellence.

The on-demand webcast, Patient Safety and Ultrasound-Guided Peripheral IV Placement: The Need for Standardized Practices, offers 1 contact hour of continuing education for nurses. It is sponsored by Parker Laboratories.

“While the use of ultrasound guidance to improve success during PIV catheter placements is becoming more common, suboptimal aseptic technique and variations in supply usage poses a very serious risk to patients,” said Dr. Moureau. “To increase safety during UGPIV insertions, healthcare organizations should adopt a multidisciplinary approach to standardize policies and procedures based on current evidence and recommendations, while at the same identifying opportunities for pragmatic, incremental improvements.”

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The Future of Breast Cancer Treatment: Destroying Tumors with a Laser

Breast cancer patients have long been in need of reliable therapeutic options that reduce pain and the risk of disfigurement. At the forthcoming MedTech conference of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed, Washington, DC), laser therapy specialist Novian Health Inc (Chicago) will showcase a novel technology for the ablation of early-stage breast tumors. The company’s CE-marked system is seeking to displace existing surgical procedures as the treatment of choice for early-stage breast tumors.

Every year, more than 275,000 women in the United States and 2 million around the world receive the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer. The news can be overwhelming, triggering sudden and intense emotions. One participant in a study of patient responses to a breast cancer diagnosis said she felt “paralyzed and frozen with fear.”

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D&D remembers Regis Philbin

While this post is a departure from our usual medicine-focused content, we at D&D wanted to acknowledge the recent passing of Regis Philbin. A few members of our staff were fortunate enough to meet Regis during his 88 years on earth — their reminiscences are below.

From Greg Dennis, retired co-founder of Dowling & Dennis:

Regis Philbin had a son who was confined to a wheelchair and relied upon a small piece of technology made by a large medical company. As it happened, Dowling & Dennis did some PR consulting work for that company.

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COVID-19 and the Importance of Virtual Learning: The Future of Medical Education

When the novel coronavirus began sweeping around the world earlier this year, it left doctors, hospitals and public health experts scrambling for answers. How should diagnoses of COVID-19 cases be made? What are the symptoms that need the most careful monitoring? What are the right treatment options for each stage of the disease? And what happens if patients have other conditions, such as being pregnant? The answers were—and continue to be—evolving so rapidly that it has been hard for overworked physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers to keep up.

But there is one place they can turn quickly for the latest information—a free online training module from a medical education company called CaseNetwork. First released on March 17, this program also illustrates the growing potential of virtual, case-based medical education even long after the pandemic has subsided.

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