Spotlight: Tom Krummel, MD, Fogarty Institute Chairman of the Board

Tom Krummel is one of those rare individuals who has seen and experienced medical innovation from every front, including stints as an academic, surgeon, writer, mentor and administrator. He continues to impact the medtech field and patient care as chairman of the Fogarty Institute and co-director of Stanford Biodesign.

Throughout his distinguished career as a pediatric surgeon, Tom has been a pioneer in innovation and advancing healthcare. Among his career highlights were his role as an early adopter of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in the treatment of neonatal cardiopulmonary collapse, as well as driving the application of information technology in simulation-based surgical training and surgical robotics.

An involved and meaningful consultant to the medical device industry, Tom serves on multiple scientific advisory boards and boards of directors. He has helped orchestrate four successful exits and has 20 more early- to late-stage companies in his portfolio, and has received two Smithsonian Information Technology Innovators Awards for his work.

Advancing Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign

Since joining Biodesign in 2002, Tom has seen the program grow rapidly and strengthen its position as one of the most successful partnerships between academia and the health technology industry.

As the health tech industry has changed, the program has successfully adapted: In the past five years, the organization has focused on a greater systematization of the process, which culminated in the second volume of their widely read textbook, The Process of Innovating Medical Technologies.

The program also shifted by increasing its focus on value. Historically, if you could develop a better device, you could sell it at a premium price, but now cost is such a key driver that each device endures intense scrutiny and comparison to how it stacks up against existing therapies and reimbursement. Quality and value proof have to go hand in hand, he says.

Looking at current trends, Tom is seeing growth in both computational science and mobile social computing backgrounds, as innovators seek to use familiar technology like iPhones and iPads as platforms to develop medical devices. He has also seen a real interest in addressing global health problems through altruism, with companies like Healyx, a Fogarty Institute company-in-residence.

And in the near future, he looks forward to next month’s graduation for the current class of Innovation Fellows, which always brings a much-anticipated chance to connect with the more than 200 past graduates and welcome the new class joining in August.

A Champion of the Fogarty Institute

Tom has long been a strong proponent of Dr. Fogarty and the Fogarty Institute, further strengthening his ties by joining the board in 2014 and becoming chairman shortly after.

“The vision for the Institute is bright. The successful transition to a new CEO and the strong performance by its companies-in-residence, most recently with the acquisition of nVision, says a lot about the people the organization recruits and the outputs they deliver,” he said.

Tom has been traveling around the world as a keynote speaker, touting the successful programs at Stanford Biodesign and the Fogarty Institute, as they work in tandem to propel medical technologies forward. The message that resonates is a simple but compelling one of collaboration: We are all facing the same set of clinical problems; we need to invent a better future; and we need to partner together — academia, physicians and engineers — to advance our industry.

Most recently, he spoke at the 13th Annual Edwards Lifesciences Science and Technology Symposium on “The Best Way to Predict the Future…Is to Invent It!” He carried the theme on to other presentations, including three in Doha, Qatar on the “secret sauce” of Silicon Valley and the role of technology and innovation in healthcare, with similar discussions at the University of Buffalo and University of Toledo.

In addition, he will be speaking at the prestigious Medical Device Conference hosted by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in June, chairing a session on artificial intelligence in early-stage medical devices. Featured will be Fogarty Institute company MedicalCue, which is using AI to support better decision-making during newborn resuscitation.

Exploring AI and VR at IRCAD, Strasbourg, France

“A home away from home” for Tom, he will be once again visiting, speaking and teaching at the prestigious IRCAD Laparoscopic Training Center, a nonprofit educational institute based on the campus of Strasbourg’s University Hospital, where he serves as president of the International Scientific Committee.

The organization will discuss the value and advancements of augmented reality and virtual reality for training, and artificial intelligence as it applies to tools and devices.

“This is a very active time in our industry and for me personally, and I feel privileged to be part of the discussion on how these cutting-edge technologies will potentially drive advancements in care,” he said.

He sees a bright future for AI, given its tremendous implications for image analytics. Just like your smart phone turns on when it recognizes your face, image recognition can be used in healthcare.

One company successfully using this technology is Gauss Surgical, a Biodesign spin-off that uses image analytics to better quantitate blood loss. AI can also help with decision support, as evidenced by MedicalCue, which helps enhance and inform decision-making in neonatal resuscitation. And there has been significant interest in increasingly autonomous robots in medical devices — two good examples are Procept BioRobotics, a surgical robotics company, and Auris Health, which is focused on autonomous flexible endoscopy.

Loving Work, But Enjoying Life

On a personal note, Tom is excited to be a new grandfather, with one grandchild born on Halloween of last year and one at Christmas. As summer approaches, he is making plans for his next road bike adventure, following an impressive cycling tour of the Alps two years ago.

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