AXON and the MedTechIDEAS Summit: A Pro Bono Initiative

5 years ago

MedTech, New York’s trade association for the bio/med industry, held its third MedTechIDEAS Summit – Ensuring Patient Access in a Value-Based Environment – on June 10, 2019, at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ global headquarters in Tarrytown, NY. AXON Communications provided pro bono logistical and communications services in support of the event.

The conference began with a welcome from Executive Director Win Thurlow, who highlighted the message of the day, saying “At the end of the day, [patient access] really is the ultimate goal.”

Following lunch, the first talk of the day occurred between John Overton, Vice President of Sequencing and Lab Operations at the Regeneron Genetics Center, and Mario Nacinovich, Managing Partner of AXON Communications in the US.

Dr. Overton shared an interesting anecdote on how he became interested in studying genetics. After seeing the movie Jurassic Park, he wanted to “turn DNA into a dinosaur.”

While Regeneron isn’t in the business of creating dinosaurs from DNA, it is studying how small changes in genes can profoundly influence disease. Dr. Overton discussed how the cost of genome sequencing has lessened from $3 million to $800 in less than 20 years, and how automation and cloud computing have made Regeneron the leading genome sequencer in the world.

He also discussed ethical considerations in whether genomic sequencing should be used in employment decisions or by insurance companies, for example, as well as whether/how certain findings should be returned to the patient if it would substantially impact their life. These are concerns that will only be brought more sharply into focus as genetic data becomes increasingly adopted.

The conference then shifted to the Keynote Address with Jason Helgerson, CEO of Helgerson Solutions Group. Mr. Helgerson discussed a shift toward value-based healthcare. While value means different things to different stakeholders, the historical model has focused on reimbursement-fee-for-service over value-based payment.

Currently, payers are increasingly demanding healthcare providers be held accountable for patient outcomes. In order to function, the system must ensure that provider incentives are in line with those of insurance companies. Mr. Helgerson stated that new payment models are only the start of value-based healthcare, and that he sees exciting disruption in the field in looking forward.

Next, Ellen Miller-Sonet discussed CancerCare, a nonprofit organization that provides a support system for cancer patients.

She shared that a recent patient survey found that more than half of respondents would be more worried about the financial implications of a cancer diagnosis than the diagnosis itself. CancerCare provides financial support to help lessen this burden in addition to counseling, support groups, community programs, and educational workshops and publications to help patients cope with their disease and facilitate their treatment.

Sara Payne, a lawyer at Barclay Damon, then discussed cannabis in the United States. She explained the legal differences between marijuana and industrial hemp, and how, in a changing legal landscape, extensive resources will be needed to regulate this new industry.

The last presentations of the day included an interesting pitch session with startups for breast mass modeling (DeepLook), a rapid point-of-care infectious disease diagnostic device (HeMemics), drug delivery via magnetic nanoparticles (Otomagnetics), ophthalmologic modeling (Glauconix Biosciences), and use of a “Trojan horse strategy” to deliver drugs into the brain (Ophidion).

The MedTechIDEAS Summit was a successful catalyst for engaging dialogue, learning, and networking, and AXON is proud to have supported this initiative.