Fuelling Business Decisions for Medical Device Companies

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Do you know what the real-time market share of your medical device is?  Or what about this: Which hospitals are performing the procedures where your medical device is used the most? Perhaps better yet, where are the facilities that will have the largest procedure volume growth?

Okay, enough of the questions.  How about some answers.  In this interview with Ken McLaren, VP of Product for Millenium Research Group, we learn how MRG’s actionable insights and analytics can help medical device companies create meaningful marketing strategies and gain sustained competitive advantages.

Interview Highlights with Ken McLaren

  • What is Millenium Research Group (MRG)?
  • The unique nature of MRG’s data.  Note: Their data sets are more than simple bar graphs.
  • How does Millenium Research Group collect their amazing medical device data sets?
  • An in-depth look at some of MRG’s solutions and their impact on medical device companies.
  • 2 macro trends in the medical device space that Ken and his team at MRG are noticing.
  • Ken’s advice for ambitious medical device doers. Hint: How close to your customers are you?
  • And much more!

Who is Ken McLaren?

Ken McLaren is the VP of Product for Millenium Research Group. Check out the MRG blog or follow them on Twitter.  Also, don’t forget to take a look at their upcoming webinars.

This Is What You Can Do Next

1) You can listen to the interview with Ken McLaren right now:

2) You can also download the mp3 file of the interview by clicking here.

3) Don’t forget – you can listen to this interview and all of the other Medsider interviews via iTunes.  And if you get a chance, leave us an honest rating and review on iTunes. It really helps out.

4) Read the following transcripts from my interview with Ken McLaren.  Also, feel free to download the transcripts by clicking here.

Read the Interview with Ken McLaren

Hello everyone, it’s Scott Nelson and welcome to Medsider, home of the free personal medical device MBA.  Let’s start with a few questions this time.  Do you know what the real-time market share of your medical device is?  Or what about this:  Which hospitals are performing the procedures where your medical device is used the most?  Perhaps even better yet, where are the facilities that will have the largest procedure volume growth in the future?  Okay, enough with the questions.  How about some answers?  In this interview with Ken McLaren, VP of Product for Millenium Research Group, we learn how MRG’s actionable insights and analytics can help medical device companies create meaningful marketing strategies and gain sustained competitive advantages.  Here are some of the things that we’re going to learn in this interview with Ken:  What exactly is Millenium Research Group?  The unique nature of their data, and we’re talking about more than just bar graphs here, folks.  How does Millenium Research Group collect this amazing data?  An in-depth look at MRG’s solutions and their impact on medical device companies.  And two macro trends in the medical device space that Ken and his team at MRG are noticing.  We’re of course going to discuss a lot more than that, but before we dive in into this interview, I have to give some attention to our sponsor of the program, Covasc.  And just a quick FYI.  If you have any interest in becoming a Medsider sponsor, we are officially opening up sponsorship opportunities for the 2012 calendar year.  This is something new.  If you’re interested at all, go to medsider.co/sponsor to learn a little bit more about the unique advantages of becoming a Medsider sponsor.  Again, that’s medsider.co/sponsor.  So, on to the sponsor of this particular program, Covasc.  The guys over at Covasc are of course doing some very interesting things as it relates to launching and selling medical devices within the vascular arena.  You see, if you’re a medical device company, you probably realize that paying direct reps is often worth it but definitely comes at a very high cost – big salary, company car, expensive insurance, etc., etc.  Well, Covasc is creating something different.  They have a unique network of affiliates that don’t require salaries or cars.  These affiliates excel clinically and have existing physician relationships at the local level.  The end result?  Increased market penetration, less cost and higher margins.  Check out covasc.com if you’re interested.  That’s C-O- V-A- S- C dot com.  C-O- V as in Victor- A- S- C dot com.  And if you’re interested in joining the Covasc network of affiliates on the sales side, go to the same website, covasc.com, for more information.  Now, here’s your program.

Scott Nelson:    Hello, everyone.  It’s Scott Nelson, and welcome to Medsider, home of the free medical device MBA, and for those of you who are new to this program, this is a show where I interview interesting and dynamic medical device stakeholders so we could all learn a few things, hopefully be entertained along the way, and today’s guest is Ken McLaren.  He’s the Vice-President of Product for Millenium Research Group.  So, welcome to the call, Ken.  Appreciate you coming on.

Ken McLaren:  Hey, thanks a lot, Scott.  We’re glad to be on here.  Thanks for having us.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah, absolutely.  So I’m really looking forward to—and some of this is out of selfish interest, but you guys have some awesome products, and so we’ll definitely dig into that, but why don’t we first start with an overview of Millenium Research Group, kind of a 30,000-foot aerial shot so the audience and myself can get a good idea of what you guys do on a daily basis, what you provide.

Ken McLaren:  Absolutely.  MRG’s been around since 1998 and really, in a nutshell what we do is we help our customers make sense of medtech markets.  We aim to, and I guess our real mission is to be for our customers the preferred partner of medtech insights and analytics.  So we differentiate ourselves in a few ways, but really we’re just trying to help our customers understand their markets, primarily from a market research perspective but we’re working with marketing teams, product managers, sales teams in different capacities just to help them understand what’s happening in their markets.

So, one way we’d really differentiate ourselves, we like to say that we provide data-driven insights.  There are a lot of data shops in the world, there are a lot of pure consultancies in the world, in the medtech world specifically, but there aren’t too many that really bring the two together.  So a lot of our products are very data-focused…

Scott Nelson:    Gotcha.

Ken McLaren:  …but they have a lot of insights layered on top by our medtech experts here.  So global medtech, and just really helping our customers make sense of their markets.

Scott Nelson:    Okay, and just to clarify, you mentioned data-driven and pure consultancy shops, you meaning there are a lot of companies that just operate almost in silos, they’re just a data shop or they’re just a consulting shop – you sort of try to blend them together a little bit to some degree, is that kind of what you’re saying?

Ken McLaren:  Exactly.  We try to blend the two together, so we’re definitely not a MacKenzie or a Bain or a BCG.  We’re not a pure strategic consultancy.  We’re not just a data shop.  We’re not [00:05:10].  We have very strong data assets and it’s really critical for us to build on those, and those are critical parts of all the work that we do, and we have a good research team, a good analyst team that really focuses on understanding medtech markets and partnering with our customers.  So we kind of blend the two, and there are a lot of companies that provide data to medtech manufacturers and there are a lot of people that provide advice to medtech manufacturers, and we kind of sit somewhere in the middle.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  We have strong data assets that are supporting our products and, you know, we’re a strong partner that works with our customers to help them understand what’s going in the markets, listen to what their actual questions are and help them make sense of it, and that’s what we do on a global basis, is work with our data through proprietary research to answer some of those questions that our customers are having.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.  Okay, very good.  I think that makes sense.  That makes a lot of sense.  So, if I’m a product manager and we’re looking at maybe expanding into a different market or something like that, I’m not just going to get pure data from MRG, I’m going to get that data kind of layered up with a little bit of consulting insights maybe, that kind of thing, so.

Ken McLaren:  Exactly.  We’ll put on a lot of insights.  We’ll help our customers understand what the data means, what the trends are, why they’re happening, potentially what it means for their markets.  You know, we’re not a consultancy, we’re not going to come into a company and tell them how to reorg their sales force or something like that.

Scott Nelson:    Yup.

Ken McLaren:  We really do leave that up to our customers themselves or the actual management consultants.  So, we definitely don’t try and play in that space, but making sure that our data is actually coming to life and our customers can make use of it and understand what it means and what implications it has for their business.

Scott Nelson:    Yup.

Ken McLaren:  And you know, we do have products across the board and the way we work with our customers is different.  I’m sure you know with medtech there isn’t one standard medtech company.  You’ve got all kinds of small startups, you’ve got big multinationals, and medical device/medical technologies are really different from market to market.  Cardiovascular is different from orthopedics.

Scott Nelson:    Mm-hmm.

Ken McLaren:  We look at facial aesthetics markets and dental implant markets and capital equipment markets and, you know they all have their own niches, and the products and services that we offer are definitely slightly different depending on the market and the customers.  We have a range of products, and some of them are off the shelf and are just ready to use, the real turnkey solution, and some of them, you know, actually do require some customization, and we do a lot of our work really across the board, so off-the-shelf products and the custom solutions that require a bigger project team to work through a very specific question and provide some detailed insights to help our customers answer their questions.

Scott Nelson:    Gotcha.  Very good.  I like your quote earlier.  You bring the data to life.  That’s a great like one-sentence overview of what you guys do or what you guys—your kind of a…

Ken McLaren:  No, that’s really key, because especially in today’s world where people are just inundated with information…

Scott Nelson:    Oh yeah.

Ken McLaren:  …everyone’s busy and most people are fighting budget pressures and they’ve got smaller teams than they did five years ago, so they just can’t live with buying data from three to four different sources and sitting there trying to make sense of which data source is right and what do I do with it and how should I use this.  There just isn’t time in today’s world to do those types of things, so we try and help, you know, make our data actually be useful and usable and share some of those insights that we have as well.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah, yeah, exactly.  I’m just imagining looking at like just a plain old bar graph with like a couple of data sets.  That’s snoozeville to me, but if there’s a little bit of insight to that, it’s like, “Oh,” and then it kind of fosters a little bit of an interest in digging further into that data set if there’s a little bit of upfront insight and overlie.

Ken McLaren:  Sure.

Scott Nelson:    So, cool.  Let’s go ahead and dig into some of your products, because I think there—and this is somewhat out of a selfish interest I have to admit to the audience that’s listening, but I think the audience will be interested in this sort of stuff as well.  But as I was doing some pre-interview research and looking at your website and kind of looking at your various products like Market Track and Perception Pulse, it’s like, “Wow, this kind of stuff is available?  Wow, I had no idea,” and I think a lot of the audience will, if they have maybe heard of MRG, Millenium Research Group, they maybe aren’t overly aware of your full breadth of products, so let’s dig into some of them and maybe you can explain in a little bit more detail what they are and their own uniqueness, so.

Ken McLaren:  Absolutely, yeah.

Scott Nelson:    You want to start out with maybe like Market Track, is that a good one to start out with?

Ken McLaren:  Yeah, I think that’s good, and maybe I’ll just reference before we jump into that just the kind of the bread and butter where MRG started with our Medtech 360 Reports.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  So, we have an analyst team of about 40 people here who are covering markets around the world, round the clock, and they publish market reports which are annual forecasts, market assessments that they’re doing on a regular basis.  That’s kind of where a lot of our work started and came from, and from there we’ve branched into a number of different product lines.  Market Track right now is one of our premier product lines and we’re tracking markets around the world in close to real time, and that’s really compelling for a lot of our customers.

Specifically, we’re going into healthcare facilities whether it’s a hospital or a physician office or an ASC, and we’re capturing very customized information to help our customers understand what’s happening in the markets.  We’re surveying these healthcare facilities for their procedures that they’re performing, and for those procedures which devices they’re using and how much they’re paying.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  So in real time, and these services are going on on a monthly or quarterly basis across probably 15 different medtech markets and 30, 40 countries around the world, we’re serving these healthcare facilities and capturing that information.  So at the end of the month or at the end of the quarter, we would send out a summary of that report to our customers and they’d see market share trends in very real time, they’d see pricing trends, they could track new product launches just to really be able to keep on top of their markets and monitor what’s happening.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  So we think of Market Track as a real-time market tracking solution, helps our customers see what’s happening in their markets, monitor performance, track product launches, track market changes, and really just have a good tool to see what’s happening in markets.  So we often think of Market Track as a product that provides the what to our customers, where a product like Perception Pulse will help our customers understand the why.  So Perception Pulse is more of a customer behavior tool.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  It’s helping our customers understand why customers are making certain purchasing decisions, and I’m sure as you know, Scott, the purchase decision in medtech right now is also turning into a bit more of a complex or gray issue.

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  Twenty years ago it was pretty—physicians made purchasing decisions that controlled purchasing decisions.  They probably didn’t care too much about the price of a device.  If they liked the product and thought it was effective for their patients, then they’re probably going to use it.

Scott Nelson:    Mm-hmm.

Ken McLaren:  That’s starting to change, and there are more stakeholders in the purchasing decisions today.  You’ve got purchasing managers and C-level executives involved in purchasing.  You’ve got payers.  You’ve got GPOs.  So, purchasing decision is getting a lot more diffused.

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  But it’s still important to understand how that purchasing decision is being made.

Scott Nelson:    Sure.

Ken McLaren:  So Perception Pulse helps our customers understand that.  We look at which factors are driving the purchasing decision, how important they are.  So what are the actual factors that are going to purchasing decisions?  Is it the price of a product?  Is it the performance of a product?  Is it the clinical trial data?  Is it the sales force effectiveness?  Is it the knowledge that the sales force brings to the hospital?  So what factors are really driving a purchase decision?  How important are those different factors?  And then, the next step on that is how companies and their products actually perform against those factors.  So you actually get a nice benchmarking tool or scorecard that could show you what are the real factors that customers are basing their purchasing decisions on and how do I stack up against those?  How do my competitors stack up?

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  And we find some really [00:12:20] good things just in terms of how decisions are made and how companies are perceived.  A company might think they actually have really strong clinical trial data but it might not be perceived that way by their customers, and you know, maybe there’s a communication strategy that needs to be re-thought or some R and D work needs to be done.  So then just being able to show them that benchmark and that scorecard to see how they’re actually performing against the factors that are really important to their customers and really helpful for some of our customers.

Scott Nelson:    Gotcha.  Okay.  So the obvious question is, I mean, even when looking at just Market Track and Perception Pulse, because it’s like, man, I would love to get access to some of that data, can you give us an overview of how this data is collected then?

Ken McLaren:  Yup, and a lot of it’s collected through proprietary research…

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  …so we would work with our healthcare facility networks, we have proprietary panels of hospitals and offices and ambulatory surgery centers that we work with, and we’re collecting all of this information from them.  For a lot of the Perception Pulse information, we’d actually be collecting it often more from some of the different stakeholders that are involved in purchasing decisions, physicians themselves, and we collect or run online surveys to capture physician perceptions.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  We do telephone interviews to really get into the details of some of the trends or factors.  So a lot of it is proprietary research…

Scott Nelson:    Gotcha.

Ken McLaren:  …or customized research that we do from MRG.  We capture that information.  Some of it is based off of data assets that we have, so we’d have strategic partnerships with different organizations that are able to share some standardized information with us, we might work with different government organizations that have access to hospital information or different third-party vendors that are partnering with hospitals and have access to patient claims data or purchasing data.  So, really, there’s a combination of methodologies, and if there is data out there that we can leverage and bring into MRG, then we’ll certainly do that as a first step.  If we require some proprietary data to be collected, then we have mechanisms to go out and capture information whether it’s from a purchasing manager or an OR manager or a physician group.  We have ways to connect with them and capture that type of information.

Scott Nelson:    Gotcha.  Okay.  And so when looking at like a product like Market Track or even Perception Pulse, do you find that a lot of med device companies are surprised or does it fit in line with their perceptions, you know, like let’s say they’re trying to evaluate a product launch or something like that or even some recently released clinical trial data using Perception Pulse, are they a lot of times surprised or does it more fit in line with what they had thought or is it kind of all over the place?

Ken McLaren:  I think it’s really all over the place.  I think more than anything what it does is it helps them quantify what they might already know to some degree.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  I mean most medtech companies are pretty connected with their customers in general.  I mean, in general you’re not talking about hundred thousand, million customer bases.  You’ve got [00:15:10] 6004-1/2 kind of key acute care hospitals in the US country by country around the world.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  I mean, that number’s not going to grow or shrink too substantially, so.  I mean, you don’t have a vast customer base that’s impossible to keep track of.  Certainly, it’s difficult and challenging, and each customer’s a little bit different, but generally medtech companies are pretty connected with their customers, so I think a lot of the things that are happening they’re aware of, they’re in touch with their markets.  What they have a tough time doing is really quantifying that from the independent third party.  So, certainly they know there’s a new product that’s doing well, but what does that mean?  Does the new product take 5% share or a 15% share?

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  They know that customers like it because of its clinical performance, ease of delivery or the clinical trial data, but how substantial is that?  Do they like it twice as much as another product or half as much?  So, really being able to quantify that and understand the real impact of it is tough.  So I think more than anything, I think that’s what we help do, and certainly things will be surprising from time to time and, you know, there’ll be a product recall that wasn’t expected and all of a sudden everyone hits the panic button and needs to see in real time what’s going on, and tools like Market Track can be really, really valuable at those times.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  But I think more than anything it’s just really quantifying it and really understanding with a good level of comfort what’s really happening and what the impact of that’s going to be on their market.

Scott Nelson:    Got you.  So like using that product recall example, let’s say from a med device company standpoint we issue this product recall.  We knew it impacted our business slightly but maybe they order a product like Market Track and it’s like, “Wow, you know, we did.  We lost 10% market share, maybe not that high, 5% market share.  That’s a lot more than we’d expect.  We knew it was bad but maybe a lot higher.”  So that’s kind of what you’re saying when you mention the idea of quantifying those preconceived notions.

Ken McLaren:  Exactly, so you could see other market share changes and our customers have done that with Market Track, and we’ve seen interesting trends after recalls where you know market share doesn’t actually come back to the pre-recall level or they actually lost some customers.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  So it wasn’t just switching to whatever product is on the shelf during the recall, it was they actually lost a few of their customers, and maybe 70% of them come back and you can see their share come back up, but it doesn’t get back to that pre-recall level.  And we can also survey physicians at the time and understand their perceptions and their attitudes towards the recall of the product.  Perception Pulse will capture some of those things or our consulting services where we talk to physicians and understand the impact that that recall or that event is having on their behavior.  Do they plan on repurchasing or using again in the future?  Did it negatively impact their perceptions of the company or the product?

Scott Nelson:    Sure.

Ken McLaren:  Or, you know, it might just come down to a shelving issue and once it’s back on the market, they’ve always liked the product and they’ll keep using it in the future.

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  So, we could help kind of understand what those perceptions are and how they’re going to impact the customer behavior in the future.

Scott Nelson:    Gotcha.  Okay, cool.  Cool.  Let’s talk a little bit about Procedure Finder because this is a really interesting product as well, and for those that are listening that have more of a sales or marketing bias, they’ll find this really intriguing, so can you explain Procedure Finder?

Ken McLaren:  Absolutely, yeah.  You mentioned that you do have a good user base in the [00:18:08] fields, sales force…

Scott Nelson:    Yeah.

Ken McLaren:  …so I think this should be really interesting to them.  It’s one of our newer products and we’re really excited about it, and it’s really our first foray into a tool that’s really geared towards the sales channel…

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  …and so Procedure Finder, in the US, it’s providing actual procedure volumes, for right now for acute care hospitals, but actually in the next month or two we’re going to launch the next version of it that also includes ambulatory surgery centers.  So what our customers get with that is they get the actual procedure volumes that the hospitals are performing for whichever markets are of interest to them.  So it’s an online tool and you can search across the country, you can go state by state, you can drill down to county level and look into specific hospitals and see the actual procedure volumes that are performing.

So this is great for sales force planning.  You’re trying to understand across the 4500 key acute care hospitals which ones you’re actually going to target.  Most companies aren’t actually going to be able to spend the right amount of time with each of those hospitals, so you know, which ones are really the key target market for your company?  And for a lot of companies that actually have diversified sales forces that are touching multiple call points in a hospital, you know, they need to get into the cath lab or an OR or an IR suite, it’s really important to be able to really target your sales force in the right way.

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  With a sales rep, it’s great coming into a hospital and understanding, you know, how many procedures is this hospital actually performing?

Scott Nelson:    Yeah.

Ken McLaren:  If they’re buying 20 stents a month from me but they’re actually performing 150 PCIs, then you know I’m really not capturing a huge volume of this market, or maybe actually I am and I should be spending my time on the two or three hospitals that I didn’t actually know were performing this certain volume of procedures.

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  So this gives them a tool to see what actual procedures each hospital is performing, and then either align at the territory or national level, align sales forces and [00:19:47] even down to the account level really, so understand the account better and understand what they’re actually doing.

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  So it’s pretty cool getting great feedback from our customers.  It’s really been growing, going great since we launched that about a year and a half ago.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah, just hearing you explain that, honestly it’s really cool, and it could be just because I’m kind of a geek when it comes to that sort of stuff, but that’s awesome.

Ken McLaren:  Yup.

Scott Nelson:    And like you said, this kind of goes back to what you said earlier in terms of quantifying some of the preconceived notions in that.  If I’m a regional manager looking at a potential account, and just using your PCI example, I knew this account was busy but wow, they’re doing x number of PCIs per month.  It’s like, wow, they are really busy, and we’re only getting 20% of that business, something like that.  So, that’s awesome.  That’s an awesome tool.  So, in relation to Procedure Finder, do you see this integrating at all with like CRM systems then?  Like a salesforce.com or something like that, so when that rep is using their CRM, it’s kind of integrated alongside that or no?

Ken McLaren:  Absolutely, and actually we’ve been having a few discussions with a few different companies that are from slightly different perspectives.  Our starting partner was salesforce.com and put some of their tools up onto a salesforce.com platform, and I do see that as a possible great evolution of this product.  Certainly a sales rep doesn’t need to have four different tools or eight different websites that they need to log into when they’re out there at their account.  I mean certainly having just one source, one resource where they can go in and get all kinds of information, we certainly know that this is a unique and viable tool, but if they could actually get leverage into something like salesforce.com for our customers, then that could be a great add-on as well.  So, certainly I think that is a possible evolution of this product in the future.

Scott Nelson:    Right.  No, that’s really cool stuff, and you said this is a fairly new product then?

Ken McLaren:  It’s fairly new.  I mean, a lot of our products have been out for 10 years or so and this is one of the new products we’ve launched in—I mean there are probably first launches of it two-and-a-half years ago or so, but really in the last year and a half we’ve launched the online platform for it, which really took it to the next level, and we’ve been rolling out some other improvements to it.  As I mentioned, we’ve got the ASC module coming out at the end of this year and that’s pretty key.  A lot of medtech markets in the US are really starting to move out of hospital, so for a lot of those more outpatient procedures, it’s just important to have the whole market in, you know.  For a lot of those markets, hospitals not only account for 20 or 40 or 60% of the full market, so just being able to give [00:22:11] that full market review is pretty key for our customers.

Scott Nelson:    Okay, and do you see a tool like this ever being integrated with maybe some of your other products like, so using Procedure Finder I can see, we’ll just stick with that PCI example, so coronary interventions, I see that ABC hospital does a hundred PCIs per month and Boston Scientific’s got 50% market share.  Is there integration there or do you see integration between the two?

Ken McLaren:  We definitely see integration.  I mean, what you’re describing there would actually I think be the kind of the ultimate tool in the future if you could see out of the [00:22:47] not only how large that account but which companies’ products are they using and which physicians are there and which products are each physician using and what are their behaviors and attitudes and why do they like a certain product or technology or what’s important to them?

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  I think something like that would obviously be kind of the Holy Grail for a sales force, so.  I mean, some of those things are certainly in our vision for where some of these parts can go.

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  Certainly, for us, we’re looking at ways to bring our products together to really marry Market Track and Procedure Finder and Perception Pulse so you can see some of those things together in one tool, in one platform.  I think that’s where our business is going to go where we’ll have one online platform where you can work across products.  And our customers don’t care as much about the brand name of the product.  They want to get their insights and intelligence and understand what’s happening in the market.  So, I mean even if you can’t see for Cleveland Clinic if they’re using [00:23:36] or what their specific market share is, certainly across the market to see how trends are, to look at pricing, looking at discounting or reimbursement, and packaging that all together into one tool would be very valuable.  So I think at a macro level we certainly see those tools coming together.  At a very, very micro level for account details, I think that’s probably several years out before something like that could happen, but certainly that would be a fantastic product for a sales team.

Scott Nelson:    Right, yeah.  No doubt.  No doubt.  I’m kind of thinking of—it’s almost like I know Jigsaw really started taking off kind of in the B world, and obviously they were acquired by salesforce.com, so it’s almost like a Jigsaw on steroids a little bit for the med device world.  But anyway, yeah, let’s kind of shoot towards a little bit of a conclusion to this interview by talking maybe a little bit about some of the trends.  You guys see a whole host of different data sets in market intelligence for the medical device world.  Can you speak to some of the trends that you’re seeing on maybe a national or even international level right now?

Ken McLaren:  Sure, I mean there’s always micro-trends popping up and buzz and news in the industries, so Abbott splitting up into two different companies…

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  …[00:24:46] are exiting the DES markets, people are starting to talk about renal denervation a lot and it’s getting quite a hype after Medtronic’s Ardian acquisition.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah.

Ken McLaren:  So, I mean there’s a lot of that that are always interesting, and you know medtech, it’s always evolving, it’s always changing, it’s a pretty interesting and dynamic market.  So those things are always on the go.  Some of the macro things that we think are really just fundamentally changing medtech are—there are two things that we’re thinking about and talking about a lot today, and those two things are the importance of emerging markets and the importance of really providing or being able to demonstrate economic value add to a product or a purchase decision, and those are coming out of two kind of fundamental changes that we see in the markets, and in terms of the emerging markets, I mean that’s really being driven by the slowing or the maturing of developed markets.  Across most developed countries today, our customers are seeing low single-digit growth – US, [00:25:38] you know, big 5, Europe, Japan, a lot of these countries where medtech has really gotten their growth from the past are some of the key big medtech markets.  Some of those markets are actually retracting or growing in the low single digits.  So actually getting growth out of medtech is absolutely paramount for the medtech industry and they’re turning to emerging markets for that, and the emerging markets they’re really focusing on China as number one, and India and Brazil probably as the next two where they’re going to see their growth come from.

Scott Nelson:    Mm-hmm.

Ken McLaren:  So all of our customers are adjusting their strategies and really starting to focus on those emerging markets, and we think that’s actually going to be a very real fundamental shift in medtech.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  So that’s one of the number one trends where we’re looking at, and for us we’re working on ways to make sure that our products, our data, our insights are relevant for those markets.  There’s a lot of work that we do in those markets already, and there’s also a lot of other good market research [00:26:27] in those markets that we’re looking to partner with in different ways to bring our products together.  So, being able to serve our customers in emerging markets as well as the US and European markets is pretty key for us.

The second thing we’re seeing happen is the importance of actually being able to prove the economic value add or actually help customers improve their profitability, not just [00:26:51] treat patients, have good clinical data, but also be able to prove cost effectiveness, and I think that’s really, really being driven by the change of the purchase decision.  We talked about that a little bit before but…

Scott Nelson:    Right.

Ken McLaren:  …physicians just don’t completely control the purchase decision anymore, and as that’s changed you’ve had purchasing departments, purchasing managers and CFOs and GPOs and payers starting to get involved with the purchasing decision, and that’s really, really emphasizing the importance of the product or the technology or the service actually improving the profitability of the overall purchase decision across those different stakeholders.  You see a lot of that in Medtronic and Boston Scientific or both actually emphasizing more so than they ever have before the importance of that economic value add.  You can see that in Boston Scientific’s mission statement.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah.

Ken McLaren:  They’re talking of actual cost effectiveness.  You can see that even in some of the first calls that Omar Ishrak is doing for Medtronic.  These are really emphasizing the customer economics and how important that would be for them.  So I think being able to show cost effectiveness, being able to prove economic value add of the technologies and products and services is going to become more and more important.  We see that as a real shift in medtech.  I don’t think too many people cared a lot about that 20 years ago.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah.

Ken McLaren:  [00:28:04] Ten years, started to be very aware of pricing.  Five years ago, people started to be aware of the diffuse purchase decision, and you’re really now seeing it come down to the actual economic value add of the product or technology.  So, we see that as being a fundamental shift, and those two we think are really, really changing medtech today.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah.  No, there’s no doubt.  I can definitely testify to the latter in terms of adding, trying to find where you’re product actually makes sense from a financial standpoint for that particular hospital because it’s really, really hard from the sales, you know, down in the trenches anymore to get a new product on the shelf, you know.

Ken McLaren:  Yup.

Scott Nelson:    You can’t say Dr. Smith really wants this product or it’s on contract.  I mean, those words, I mean that doesn’t jive in today’s environment anymore.  And you mentioned even Omar Ishrak, the new CEO for Medtronic, I mean, he almost fits those two bullet points to the T in that I think one of the reasons he was hired is his experience kind of with emerging markets, and then also it seems like a lot of his statements recently, you’re right, kind of pinpoint the adding cost effectiveness in the sort of the mission and the goal.  So, that’s interesting that he kind of fits both of those to a T.  Yeah, so, real cool.  No, this has been great stuff, Ken, and just real quick, what is your background?  Have you been with MRG for a while then?

Ken McLaren:  Been with MRG for almost 10 years now.

Scott Nelson:    Okay.

Ken McLaren:  So I actually started out as an analyst at MRG running our market research reports in the cardiovascular space.  I managed our cardiovascular analyst team for several years before I moved over to lead up our Market Track product line, so I led the Market Track product line for about four years before I started taking over just kind of broader product responsibilities for the company, and I’ve spent most of my recent life here at MRG, so it’s been a pretty fantastic experience to continue to evolve and have new products roll out as the market changes and as our customer demands change.  So, like the rest of medtech, it’s been changing, it’s been innovative and it’s been a lot of fun to be part of.

Scott Nelson:    Right.  No doubt.  And any one or two pieces of advice that you would have, you know, that you’d like to give to other ambitious medical device doers as I like to call them?

Ken McLaren:  I think the key is just stay close to your customers.  I mean, these markets are going to continue to change and these are going to change, and just to stay relevant and to be valuable you really just have to understand your customer needs and to be as close to your customers as possible and understand where they’re coming from and which problems they’re trying to solve.  I think really at the end of the day that’s the key for any of us [00:30:34] today.

Scott Nelson:    Gotcha.  Very good.  Good stuff.  Well, I know we’re running short on our time here, so I can’t thank you enough, Ken, for joining me on the call today.  It’s been really interesting to learn about your products and your solutions and how you have helped medical device companies kind of figure out a direction to take in whatever project or issue they’re working on.

Ken McLaren:  Absolutely, Scott.  We really appreciate the opportunity to be on here.  You’ve got a great website and we’re really, really glad to be a part of that.

Scott Nelson:    Yeah, absolutely.  I can’t thank you enough, so.  I’ll have you hold on the line real quick but that’s it folks, until the next edition of Medsider.  Thanks for listening, and I guess before I let everyone go, people that are listening that want to learn more about Millenium Research Group, I know they can obviously go to your website, which is mrg.net, but you also have some webinars.  I wanted to make sure I covered this.  I’m glad I mentioned it now, but you also have like some webinars too and stuff, right?

Ken McLaren:  Yeah, absolutely.  We do a couple of webinars a month on some of the hot topics and some of the research that we’re publishing, so you can check us out at mrg.net and you can find more information there.  You can follow us on Twitter and keep up-to-date with what’s happening at MRG.

Scott Nelson:    Thanks everyone for listening, and until next time.  Take care.  (Music Plays)

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