Digital Transformation in MedTech (S2:E52)

February 23, 2023

Today, we’re joined by Laura Angelini, a leader in the MedTech industry and newly appointed member of the Identiv Board of Directors. Laura discusses the transforming role of the IoT in healthcare, and predicts true innovation and the evolution of standards of care will occur at the intersection of technology evolution and big data management.

Full Transcript

Voiceover (00:01):

You're listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today's most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what's new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity, and IoT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging fidgital experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture. Your host is Leigh Dow, VP of Global Marketing at Identiv.

Leigh Dow (00:43):

Thanks for tuning in today. I'm excited to have this guest join us, Laura Angelini. Laura is a newly appointed member of the Identiv board of directors, as of October of 2022, and she brings a significant amount of IoT digital transformation vision and growth strategy, and that expertise to Identiv's board, through her outstanding leadership in the medical industry. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Laura Angelini (01:09):

Hi, everyone. Pleasure to be here.

Leigh Dow (01:11):

First of all, I'd like to mention that you have such an impressive resume, and maybe I thought we could start with you telling us about your experience and areas of expertise within the industry.

Laura Angelini (01:21):

I spent about 30 years in the healthcare industry, 25 years at Johnson & Johnson, and the last 5 years before retiring in 2021, I was at Baxter International healthcare. My deep area of expertise is medical devices within the industry. I made a career, a very traditional, in the commercial area, starting in marketing functions and then progressing through sales and marketing up to general management, where I hired the opportunity to lead several brands across medical devices from a global perspective. So I would say my experience is deep in medical devices, but very broad when it comes to the type of markets and the different medical specialties that I touched during my 30 years in healthcare.

Leigh Dow (02:17):

Can you give us some personal insight into the rise and demand for a more connected and sophisticated healthcare system within the IoT, whether it's medical devices or the ecosystem at large?

Laura Angelini (02:29):

I believe there's a phenomenal opportunity when you think about the evolving technology, and you start thinking about how you couple that with data. I truly believe that innovation in healthcare will come at the intersection between technology advancement and data management, and this is where IoT has a big role to play. It's about how you can think about using all this data, all this information to really democratize healthcare, to make sure you can standardize processes, procedures, but most importantly, giving access and really shifting the side of care by making sure that information are available anywhere at any time for both the patients, the providers, and the payers.

Leigh Dow (03:16):

I think that's a really interesting idea of how data does help democratize healthcare and make information more accessible. I know that, you always hear the stories about people, especially people who get a really significant diagnosis, that they'll go in and they'll get the diagnosis and they can't really hear what the physician is telling them because their mind goes to a different place. And having more access to their own data, and more unique and specified data, truly does help the patient in the process of guiding their health, not just the medical facility or the physician.

Laura Angelini (03:56):

Absolutely. It's about really empowering the patients, making sure that they know and understand what they have, what are the different options, what are some of the opportunities, but also some of the potential challenges of getting one treatment versus another. But I think about democratizing healthcare also in the sense of making sure that every doctor, every nurse, every provider of care really gets instant access to all the information available in a certain area or a certain subject. It's not only that if you have had the opportunity to have access to that information or you had the opportunity to experience that particular situation in a patient, you now know about that and how to treat it. I mean, this information is now made available to everyone instantaneously. That's really a very, very powerful thought, and that's what is going to make the difference in the future in terms of access to quality care for everyone all over the world.

Leigh Dow (04:55):

When did you first start to notice the importance of this for the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets?

Laura Angelini (05:01):

I would probably recall a moments of realization in, I would say probably about 15 years ago. At that time, I was actually working for Johnson & Johnson and I was responsible for a global team that was looking into the opportunity of bringing robotic into surgery. And I started to really think about beyond some of the obvious advantages of robotic surgery, if you think about standardization of procedures or the ability to do procedures remotely. I also started to think about the power of all these machines collecting data, storing data, and comparing data. So there was a really a-ha moments, a moment of realization where I said, "Robotics can really change the world, can really change the standards of care in surgery by providing a more equal experience, a more standardized experience for every patients, but also starting to collect and store data and compare data, so that those data can be made accessible to all the doctors and all the providers all over the world." So, that was the first moments.


Then when I moved to Baxter, I was able to really translate an idea into reality. Dialysis patients actually are probably one of the first group of patients where big data and connected healthcare are already a reality. Many patients are taking their therapies at home, and what happens is that the machine collects the data of the therapy that is taken overnight and then transfer this data through the cloud, through the provider and the nurses and the doctors, to make sure that they can review the procedure, the therapy, in the morning after and check back that the patients have done the therapy properly. So, I started to see that in action in real life. And so, the combination of these two experiences really made me aware of the possibilities in this space.

Leigh Dow (06:57):

So, medical devices are definitely one of many market segments that we really want to have a nice book of business in. And Identiv's RFID-enabled IoT solutions are integrated into more than 1.5 billion physical things, and create a digital identity for every physical object, and that really can deliver digital transformation across industries. So, when we look at where we sit in that overall IoT stack, which IoT architecture has a lot of debate around it... I did some research a while back in trying to figure out our positioning in that space and looking at the different IoT architectures, and there really is no consistent agreement even on what the IoT stack is. There's everything from three or four layers to eight or nine.


But what I really came to the conclusion of is that we sort of sit in almost like the nano section of the ecosystem. So, we really have a unique position in RFID of putting data in motion in that sounding layer, or perception layer, of the IoT. And that really is what allows the IoT to operate and create those digital identities or the digital transfer of data from device to the cloud or wherever you want to store it. So, I think that listening to you talk about how you saw this evolution happening for quite some time now, and I feel like we're just at that critical moment where it's gone from people who are super technically oriented, who get it, to people who are now developing products or even developing brand experiences are starting to really understand how to take data and put it in motion.

Laura Angelini (08:48):

Yeah, absolutely. I think we are really at a tipping point. I mean, you said it very well. And I think we are at the tipping point, but also in the phase where we can still shape the way it is and the way we would like that to be and to become. So, very, very exciting time for Identiv and for everyone who's working in healthcare, to really make sure that you can take... I mean, what is starting to happen and we're still shape it, mold it, and do it in a way that can be really transformative. Exciting times, and certainly, I mean, in these exciting times, somebody has to take the lead and make things happen, and I think Identiv has really that vision. And it is exciting and it's one of the reasons why I was really attracted and very excited when I was offered the opportunity to become a board member, because there is an opportunity here to really make things happen and to change the standards of care.

Leigh Dow (09:46):

Well, and you bring such a unique voice to our board, because our board didn't have people with medical device or healthcare and pharma expertise to help guide us in some of our decisions that we're making about how we go to market, what messaging we have out there, how we appeal and attract to the companies that we want to work with. So, we didn't have that unique point of view or voice on our board. And the medical and pharmaceutical industry is recognized as one of the largest global marketing opportunities for Identiv IoT products and services. And with your experience managing really disciplined, global operations for large, multinational healthcare companies, and also integrating leading-edge technology into their operational process, how do you envision Identiv's growth plans for this really super important market segment?

Laura Angelini (10:38):

I mean, the opportunities are really vast, almost impossible to count them. So, I think ultimately in healthcare, it's about delivering value, and delivering value looking through the lenses of the different stakeholders. We used to say in healthcare that you really have to build your value proposition around the five piece; the patient, the provider, the payer, the policymakers. So, really making sure that you look from an holistic standpoint and look at all the actors in this game, and really make sure that for each one of them, you bring value, you deliver value, and you build a product or a service that has a clear differentiation. And in that sense, I think that's how you build a growth plan for Identiv; making sure you look at your customers, you stay customer-centric, you look at the different actors in the game, you build a value proposition that really makes sense and gives value to each one of them.


And then you make your choices, because there are so many opportunities that eventually, I mean, one of the things that Identiv will have to really stay focused in creating their growth plan is, where do we want to start first? How do we prioritize? How do we make sure we create not only breadth, but also depth within each one of the medical specialties? And really work on an economy of scale so that if you deliver a product that makes sense in one specific application or use case, then you broadly look at how we are going to expand the usage within that segment of the market.

Leigh Dow (12:27):

I think that is so smart. I did a lot of research on this particular market segment, and one of the things that really stood out to me is, globally, but I'll just take the United States; in the United States, there are thousands of medical device companies, but I think the number is 80% of them are actually quite small. They might be in a startup phase or they are working on a very specific solution, as opposed to some of the bigger companies that we've named, like Medtronic, or J&J, Baxter. A lot of the players in this space are actually quite small, but they might be incredibly innovative.

Laura Angelini (13:09):

Yes. Mm-hmm.

Leigh Dow (13:10):

And then-

Laura Angelini (13:11):

Yeah. And as we said, I mean, it's how you really look at the different opportunities and you pick the ones that make more sense, but also the ones that are easily reproducible or expandable. And you can look at going deep in two ways. You can go deep vertically or horizontally. You can build a value, a solution, for example, in one medical specialty; think about orthopedics, for example. And then you can think how you're going to apply that across the spectrum of all the companies that operate in the orthopedic space. Or you can look at depth from an horizontal perspective. You go to a company, like a Johnson & Johnson or a Medtronic. They have an immense portfolio of medical devices, and then you develop a solution that can be applied across different portfolios within the same company. I think both opportunities are huge, I mean, and you really need to look at that from different angles.

Leigh Dow (14:09):

Yeah, I love that because the use cases are key, right? Being able to demonstrate that you can solve a problem first and foremost.

Laura Angelini (14:16):


Leigh Dow (14:16):

And then, how do you expand that across portfolios? That's very sound advice. What are some of the global MedTech trade shows or events that you find really valuable to attend? There are so many, and as you mentioned earlier, each of these companies plays in different spaces and there is some overlap. So, some medical device companies might be wholly focused on dental, whereas others might be wholly focused on orthopedic, and then you have larger companies that have a broader portfolio. So, what are some of the big events or shows that you have found really valuable?

Laura Angelini (14:51):

I think you made a very good point where you said, I mean, healthcare and medicine is really a field of specialization, so it's very hard to say there is one where you can go, I mean, that will cover the spectrum at 360 degrees. I mean, I found very valuable to go to the very specific ones where you really found the expertise and the high-level of depth. So when I was in surgery, of course, I was mostly attending the American Congress, the American Society of Surgery. And then when I was in the diabetes, in renal care, I mean, Kidney Week that happens every year in the fall was the main forum for meeting customers and looking at which type of innovations were developed by the major companies. But really, it is about identifying what is the most important one within the specialty that you're going to cover.


That's the reason why I think, when we were discussing before, is really critical; how you look at the broad spectrum across medical devices and pharmaceutical. You look at the different specialties, the different use cases, and you end up prioritizing the ones that make more sense to approach first. Once you've done that, then you can look within each one of those specialties, what is the main convention that you should be going? It is hard to find one that will cover the full spectrum across all the different specialties and medical areas of expertise.

Leigh Dow (16:27):

Yeah. And the few that I've been to tend to, like you said, they are very specialized. They might be focused on hospital operations or surgical instrumentation or diagnostics, so very, very... we call it this big market segment of medical devices, but truly, there's thousands of sub-segments to that.

Laura Angelini (16:50):


Leigh Dow (16:51):

So, knowing that medical technology, it's only going to expand, any futuristic predictions, or what do you see in the future for MedTech's transforming role in healthcare?

Laura Angelini (17:06):

Yeah. I mean, I think we already briefly touched that. I really believe that the intersection of technology evolution and big data management; at that intersection, innovation and changing the standards of care will happen. I remember when I started to work in medical devices 30 years ago, it was not uncommon at that time that you would work with one physician, one surgeon, who would have one idea about the next generation of a medical device or an entirely new medical device, and you would work with one or two doctors to develop that product, and then to slowly make sure that the product would be adopted on a national or even on a global basis. I think those days are gone. That type of innovation, that type of transformation within medical devices and healthcare, has reached probably a saturation point. And the next big transformation will happen through the continuous evolution of technology, but most importantly, our technology comes together with information and data. And this is what I see happening in the next decade or in the next 20 years, and this is where, I mean, really, IoT will play a major role.

Leigh Dow (18:25):

Well, I come from a family of many, many medical practitioners. I'm the weird one who, whenever they talk about what I do, they're like, "It's something in technology. We're not sure." But everyone else in my family, I have quite a few doctors, surgical nurses, and other kinds of healthcare providers in my family. So, it's always been topics that are forefront in my family, and I've always had an interest in. So, I've really enjoyed learning a lot more about the technology evolution and in some cases, revolution, that's going on in healthcare. You can tell that you've had a really great career in that industry, but also, it's very obvious in talking with you that you've never lost sight of the patient and how important all of this is for patient care. So, I think that that's really beautiful to see.

Laura Angelini (19:19):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, ultimately, this is the whole reason why we are all here. It's because ultimately, there's a patient, there's somebody whose condition can be cured or improved, and that is really what matters at the end. And technology evolution and data, these are all wonderful, exciting fields of operation, but ultimately, what you want to do is to make an impact on a patient, and one patient at a time, and make sure that you can transform that patient life.

Leigh Dow (19:50):

Mm-hmm. Well, thank you so much for joining us today and giving our audience a chance to listen to such an enlightening conversation with one of our newest board members, as we discussed the transformational power of technology in the healthcare industry. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please like and subscribe for me. We drop a new episode every Thursday.

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