Thursday, April 20, 2017

Q and A with
Sam Van Alstyne
Global Marketing Manager
New Products
3M Drug Delivery Systems

By Patricia Jacoby
Publications Editor 
Frost & Sullivan 

As new options in connected healthcare continue to emerge, new and sometimes unlikely entrants are also contributing to the transformation of the medical business landscape. To address this trend, Frost & Sullivan recently posed a few questions to Sam Van Alstyne, Global Marketing Manager, New Products, 3M Drug Delivery Systems. We discussed 3M’s entry into digital healthcare, their recent innovation in drug delivery and the need for effective business models to address all the changes in healthcare.

1. Can you describe your current role at 3M?

I am the Front End Innovation and New Products Marketing Manager for 3M Drug Delivery Systems Division.  My job is to work with our laboratory scientists, insights specialists and designers to develop new product concepts and take them through the commercialization process. I’m currently working on three projects – one, the 3M™ Intelligent Control Inhaler has been publicly announced.

2. Can you share any examples of new Drug Delivery Systems you are particularly excited about? 

The entry of 3M into digital healthcare – particularly as it applies to inhalation drug delivery.  3M is known globally as an innovative company and developed the first metered dose inhaler 60 years ago – it is exciting to see these come together. 

3. Can you discuss how 3M Science is being applied to Digital Heath Care?

It’s the theme of uncommon connections – the ability to bring resources from across the company to bear in solving a particularly tough problem. With our inhaler project, we can leverage formulation and delivery expertise from our own division, data management and analytics knowledge from 3M Oral Care and Health Information Systems Divisions to create a product that may help solve the persistent problems of medication adherence and what we call device competence – the ability of a patient to use an inhaler correctly.

4. How do you see 3M’s products and services evolving to meet the current shift to value-based healthcare?

Data plays a critical role in value-based care.  You must prove outcomes – not just clinically but in the real world and data helps to do that.  One of the benefits of connected devices is that you generate longitudinal data from a large and diverse population. Instead of days or weeks of data, you can get months and years – something that would be prohibitively expensive to do in a clinical setting. That data can be examined for trends and connections providing insights not only to healthcare providers but back to the patient themselves. Empowering patients is key to reducing healthcare costs in the long term.

5. Many new opportunities exist for companies (like 3M) focused on technology and process innovation. What opportunities for technological innovation do you see in the marketplace?

Globally there is intense pressure to reduce the cost of healthcare. Sometimes this seems at odds with the desire for new, innovative products – but it’s exactly from these sorts of tensions that true creativity flows. We have a challenging situation with drug delivery since most (if not all) of the payer-quantified value comes from the molecule delivered rather than the technology which delivers it.
Yet across the industry, there are patients who do not get the full benefit of their therapy because they forget to take their medication or they take it incorrectly. In these cases, the delivery systems can help. They can remind or remove obstacles by simplifying the administration process. These devices can provide real, demonstrable value to the patient and to the payer but it’s difficult to get additional reimbursement.

6. How about improvements that can be made to the drug delivery process?

It’s not just a problem in drug delivery, I attend several digital healthcare conferences each year and I’m always amazed by the incredibly creative solutions on display and most are struggling to survive.The desire, drive and technology are there, what’s missing are the innovative business models that help turn these inventions into sustainable businesses.

7. The theme of this eBulletin is Capitalizing On New Business Models in Healthcare for Breakthrough Results. Do you think that is possible?

Who will pay for the innovation seems to be the question on everyone’s mind.  Instinctively, we turn to the payers as that is their traditional role but ways to deliver care are evolving faster than the industry can adapt. Models based on share-of-savings are popular but defining and proving what the savings are remains challenging. Looking beyond the payer and understanding who benefits, how they benefit and finding ways to partner is the way forward in my mind.

Excited by the ways technology can improve healthcare outcomes, Sam Van Alstyne is a software engineer who ventured into marketing and has since become passionate about digital health.  As new products marketing manager in 3M’s Drug Delivery Systems Division, Sam has responsibility for the 3M Intelligent Control Inhaler program.

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