February 2014


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Welcome to the Anniversary Edition of the Biodesign Alumni Association newsletter! That’s right – you’ve been more tuned in to Biodesign news for a whole year now! Kinda makes you wonder how you ever lived without it, doesn’t it? In the spirit of innovation, we will be “innovating in the newsletter space” this year. Keep an eye out for new content, an updated look, and new alumni association activities in the upcoming editions. This month’s issue includes our first policy position statement – a chance to use our group’s influence to effect change in the industry.

In this February issue:

  • Upcoming Alumni Association Events
  • General Announcements
    • Biodesign Alumni Policy Position Statement | Device Excise Tax
  • New Biodesign Alumni Blog Posts
  • Policy Changes that Affect You
  • Famous Last Words

Upcoming Alumni Association Events

Save the Date!

Join Frank Fischer, CEO of NeuroPace, for the next Tableside Chat to hear about the Neuropace story and their recent PMA approval for the RNS system – an implantable neurostimulator for the treatment of refractory epilepsy.  Frank has over 30 years of senior management experience in the medical device industry.  Prior to Neuropace he held positions as CEO of Ventritex, leading them to acquisition by St. Jude, and then CEO of Heartport.  It promises to be a great evening filled with lessons from one of the more experienced executives in medtech. 

General Announcements


Alumni represent a unique slice of the medtech industry, and we believe that we can provide a valuable perspective on pressing policy issues that affect not only our industry, but also our career choices.

To make our voices heard, the Stanford Biodesign Alumni Association is kicking off a new initiative. Our first focus area is on the controversial topic of the medical device excise tax, supported with survey data provided to us by Silicon Valley Bank last year. The draft position statement can be found here.

We are seeking comments from all alumni. Anyone with this link can view the article (the text is locked). If you have any comments or suggestions, please highlight the text where you want to add a comment. Then either:

  1. In the menu, go to “Insert”, then “Comment”
  2. Click on the comment icon in the toolbar
  3. Click Ctrl + Alt + M

The comment period will close Feb 17th, after which all the feedback will be incorporated and the final document will be posted on biodesignalumni.com. If you have comments that you would like to keep private, please e-mail Ravi Pamnani at ravrav@gmail.com.

New Biodesign Blog Posts

by Brandon Felkins
posted February 3, 2014
Hank Plain has a dirty little secret. He told me so over wine at a recent Biodesign Alumni Tableside Chat.  In late November, 10 members of the Biodesign Alumni Group were treated to an early holiday gift, a 3 hour candid dinner discussion with one of medtech’s most prominent figures.  As a Partner at Morgenthaler, Vice Chairman of the Foundry and key player in the acquisitions of Ardian and Acclarent, two of the biggest medical device acquisitions in recent years, Hank knows what he is talking about and we took full advantage of our time with him and covered a wide range of topics whose highlights are captured below.  And, if you keep reading I’ll even tell you what Hank’s dirty little secret really is. Read More 

Policy Changes that Affect You

The Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is the current, often-criticized method currently used by CMS to control spending by Medicare on physician services. However, for years, Congress has temporarily bypassed the SGR because if the formula is implemented as written today, physicians would face steep double-digit cuts in payments. The “permanent fix” for the SGR is the holy grail, and needs to take into account upcoming changes in the healthcare payment landscape, such as the rise of accountable care organizations. As opposed to outright repeal, which has been pegged at costing $175 billion by the congressional budget office, former CMS chiefs are proposing a temporary fix, cutting the cost in half, and giving time to physicians to transition to new payment models. Read more


In early December, the House passed the Innovation Act by a vote of 325 to 91. More Democrats than Republicans opposed the legislation, but the legislation enjoyed large majorities in both parties. Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlattee (R-Va.), the legislation is designed to rein in the growing problem of patent trolls, companies who make no useful products themselves but profit by threatening other companies with lawsuits. The bill is now in the Senate. Read more

Famous Last Words


“We spent New Year’s at the Rose Bowl. I resolved to try to talk to Coach Shaw about play calling on 4th and short…”  — Paul Yock

“Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.”  — Josh Makower