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MedTech POV Podcast with Scott Whitaker | PAVmed and Lucid Chairman and CEO Dr. Lishan Aklog Discusses the Impact the Reimbursement System has on Innovation and Development of Life-Saving Technology

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lishan Aklog, MD, Chairman and CEO of PAVmed and Lucid Diagnostic, joined AdvaMed’s Scott Whitaker on the Medtech POV podcast to discuss how the reimbursement system works for medtech companies and the impact it has on raising capital and getting life-saving medical technology to patients.  

During the conversation, Aklog and Whitaker discussed how one of the biggest keys to raising capital from potential investors is certainty. They acknowledged there is always going to be some amount of uncertainty, whether that is uncertainty about the technology or around Intellectual Property, but that that reimbursement risk is “very difficult to manage,” especially for smaller companies.

Aklog explained that “if there’s one thing we need to fix in the life cycle of getting an innovation into the hands of physicians, it’s how we do reimbursement.” The impact uncertainty over reimbursements has on the medtech industry is so pronounced that, according to Aklog, “it can be the difference between getting a life-saving, innovative technology into the hands of physicians, or not.”

Reimbursement issues aren’t the only obstacles to bringing life-saving medical technology to market. Aklog and Whitaker also talked about the difficulty in transitioning from promising research to actual technology that can help patients. In fact, it is one of the things that motivated Aklog to start PAVmed. One of the main issues, in Aklog’s view, is that there is not a straightforward path to taking the great research being done in academic medical centers and turning it into innovations that can be used in the real world. 

As Aklog claimed, “as an industry we do have an interest in making sure these innovations are not trapped.” He also emphasized the need to develop an “industry-wide path” for transitioning from promising research to market-ready technology. Aklog concluded, “there are things that we could do as an industry, that we’re not doing, to facilitate and unclog some of that pipeline.”

Another key area where the medtech industry is making progress is on the issue of diversity. Aklog, who was born in Ethiopia, talked to Whitaker about how when he was a young heart surgeon, there were not many other African Americans in the field, but that is beginning to change. Aklog pointed out that “clear-cut progress that’s been made has been in the conversation” about diversity. He continued, “that’s the most important thing, is the dialogue is there, we’re talking about it. But now we need to translate that into actual results.”

He also had high praise for AdvaMed’s work in moving the ball forward on the issue of diversity. He told Whitaker, “another thing that I found very impressive is the efforts that AdvaMed has taken in this regard. We have a diversity and inclusion subcommittee of the board. We have management team members focused on this. We have a CEO D&I roundtable. And we’ve made the assessments as to how we’re doing, and we made it clear we could do better.”

To listen to the full conversation, including Aklog discussing his journey from Ethiopia to America, as well as his transition from renowned heart surgeon to PAVmed and Lucid Diagnostics Chairman and CEO, download the MedTech POV podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever podcast streaming is available. Visit AdvaMed’s website for more information on the podcast and past guests.

The MedTech POV podcast is hosted by Scott Whitaker, President and CEO of AdvaMed, the world’s largest medical technology association. It premiered in April 2021 and has featured medtech and health care policy leaders such as Dr. Steven Hahn and General James Mattis. In each episode, guests and host Scott Whitaker cover the intersection of medtech and policy from every perspective, including current issues in business, policy, and current events.

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AdvaMed member companies produce the medical devices, diagnostic products and digital health technologies that are transforming health care through earlier disease detection, less invasive procedures and more effective treatments. AdvaMed members range from the largest to the smallest medical technology innovators and companies. For more information, visit www.advamed.org.