Happy 5th Anniversary, Innovative Health!
Today, March 16th, it has been exactly 5 years since Innovative Health received our first FDA clearance to sell a reprocessed device: A diagnostic ultrasound catheter. Before the end of the year, Innovative Health received 10 more FDA clearances. Since then, Innovative Health has received a steady stream of new clearances for more and more complex devices, several of them devices that nobody thought could be reprocessed and that can only be reprocessed by Innovative Health. To date, we have received 36 clearances, more than 7 per year. This has made us the leading reprocessor in terms of new clearances – and in terms of added savings for our customers.
I’ll use the occasion to look back at the past five years and offer some thoughts about what is in store for the next five.
When Innovative Health was founded by industry veterans, it was the clear intention to do things differently. It looked to us like the industry had come to a stop: Very few new device clearances, poor customer service and no innovation. Our idea was that to re-start the industry, we had to approach reprocessing in a new way. We believed that to grow reprocessing savings further, you would have to focus on a specific service line, become experts in the technology and pursue clearances for more and more complex devices: We launched Innovative Health with a singular focus on cardiology/electrophysiology, and quickly build an inventory of FDA clearances to match competition. Then we took it further and have been focused on complex technology such as lumen cleaning, inspection techniques, etc. This has made it possible for us to get more clearances and save our customers more. This is different from how reprocessing has been done in the past – and how reprocessing is done by most reprocessors. In summary, specialty reprocessing has been a great success. Today, our customers can save thousands of dollars more in some procedures.
To date, we have received 36 clearances, more than 7 per year.
In 2020, the pandemic and the growing focus on a circular healthcare economy has provided additional tailwind for reprocessing: There is a new mindset around re-use – hospital staff is thinking twice before throwing a device away. Additionally, with hospitals suffering financially, there is a growing focus on increasing cost savings. A recent Kaufman Hall study projected that hospitals could lose between $53 billion and $122 billion due to the lingering effects of COVID-19. Gradually, reprocessing has emerged as THE model for how hospitals can simultaneously save money, reduce environmental impact, and improve patient care – the model for a circular economy in healthcare. As a result, we have seen an increased commitment to reprocessing: Our customers are more diligent with their collections, they are more diligent about buying back and using reprocessed devices, and more hospitals are enlisting in reprocessing programs with Innovative Health.
The first five years have been about disruption of the reprocessing industry. The next five years will unequivocally be about GROWTH. Innovative Health is going to continue down the path that has already upset the reprocessing industry and increased savings for hospitals. You will see a deeper engagement in reprocessing savings from our customers as well as from Innovative Health: More products will be introduced into reprocessing programs, and hospitals will work hard to maximize their result.
...reprocessing has emerged as THE model for how hospitals can simultaneously save money, reduce environmental impact, and improve patient care – the model for a circular economy in healthcare.
You will also see Innovative Health – and possibly other reprocessors that want to move the industry forward - introduce reprocessing in new service lines and therapeutic areas. Reprocessing should not be limited to a small number of service lines like it is today; reprocessing technology can be utilized across many more areas than today – and further increase hospital savings. We are looking at other cardiology areas beyond electrophysiology. These areas are characterized by accessible technologies, expensive devices and absolutely no reprocessing.
We also believe you will see real integration between reprocessing and original device manufacturing. Manufacturers really don’t have a choice: If they want to continue to introduce new, expensive devices to hospitals, they are going to have to integrate reprocessing to help hospitals drive down their spend. Some manufacturers have already started this evolution and are capturing market share due to reprocessing rather than fighting narrowly for their profits.
Finally, in the next five years, you will see hospitals become more demanding. They will demand to get more out of their reprocessing programs, as circular economy principles become established. At Innovative Health, we believe that hospitals SHOULD demand more from their reprocessing partners and are ready to participate in change that grow reprocessing savings. Don’t just use us to realize limited savings on a few devices: Demand that new clearances give them access to constant savings growth; demand that supply chain integration becomes smoother; demand that collection systems, analytics, transparency, and savings results are improved. Finally, demand that your reprocessor addresses overall program challenges, like clinical integration. As reprocessing technology advances and more complex devices are made reprocessable, bringing clinicians into the equation becomes critical.