Beyond the crisis: Interview with Chris Rogers, Director at Medovate

Article written by Lauren Harris, Director of X4 Life Sciences.

I spoke to Chris Rogers, Sales and Marketing Director at Medovate, an innovation development company dedicated to the commercialisation of pioneering medical technologies created within the NHS, on some of the biggest issues facing MedTech right now.

From digitalising their go to market strategy to benefit from the post-Covid recovery and the impact of Trump tariffs on Chinese manufactured products, to how they plan to grow and scale their business and the cultural impact working from home has on the business and employees, this is an interview not to be missed.

What has been the biggest challenge for Medovate since Covid-19?

As a relatively new business we have been impacted less than some of the larger players. However, as our route to market is via our distributor partners and current manufacture is in China, Covid-19 has without doubt caused us some challenges.

Two of the biggest challenges are the reduction in the number of elective procedures and access to hospitals for our distributor’s sales teams.

NHS hospitals in the UK suspended most electives for three months when the pandemic hit to free-up resources.  In the US, the federal government and the American College of Surgeons advised the country’s hospitals and clinics to delay non-essential procedures. Electives in most countries have now started again but I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride as we get through the second wave and it will be well into 2021 before we see electives returning to pre-Covid levels.

As access to key decision makers in hospitals has been impacted, we have focused our attention on providing a suite of digital solutions to support our distributors. We are rapidly expanding additional digital capabilities including digital detailing and creating additional video assets. There is no doubt that digitalising our go to market strategy and innovating will help our distributors in market and I do think those companies that scale up their digital capabilities will be better placed to benefit from the post-Covid recovery.

How will the pandemic change the MedTech industry going forward?

Investment and acceleration in digital capabilities is rapidly changing the way we engage with and talk to customers.  It is no surprise that the pandemic has required an immediate shift away from face to face interaction to virtual ones and I think that this is likely to be the way forward even after we return to a post-Covid world.

The other key area is manufacturing and the supply chain. Before the COVID-19 crisis, there was already significant pressure to localise in certain markets and we as a business are already looking at how we future proof ourselves. We also have the added complexity of Brexit which brings its own challenges together with the ongoing impact of the Trump tariffs on Chinese manufactured products that could also mean a re-think regarding manufacturing partners moving forward. The fact that 60% of the world’s PPE was manufactured in one region will push more localisation of supply chains and greater distribution of stocks around the world, means we need to be prepared for all eventualities.

There is no doubt that the current pandemic is a real humanitarian crisis, however it is also an opportunity for the MedTech industry to fundamentally change the way it operates to better support the changing healthcare landscape.

As a start-up spun out of the NHS, how do you plan to scale the business?

The key focus as we scale is to recruit the right people and build the right team. Culture is key within Medovate. As a start-up it is vital that we attract the right people, those who want to work in a dynamic, fast-evolving environment, one that values initiative. We all wear many hats at Medovate and there is room for creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit.

If you want to grow professionally, this is the place for you. Yes, it is important that new employees have the right skills on-paper, but it is equally important that their attitude and behaviour is in-line with our mission and vision as a business.

As we grow, every role within our organisation will come with a set of challenges and obstacles that must be overcome, and we need to hire people who will respond to those challenges in a positive way. So, focusing on behaviours during the interview process is important. Move fast when you have found the right candidate. There is no point in dragging your feet. Yes, you should certainly thoroughly evaluate your options before you make an offer, but you do not want to lose a great candidate to your competition, so act fast.

Finally, beware of measuring your success and growth by headcount alone. There are many who get focused on the number of team members in their business being a measure of how far they have come. The reality is that the number of team members can end up being a distraction, and even at times an impediment, to your business’s success.

We will also continue to outsource and automate as we grow. This will allow us to save both time and money especially on areas that do not require everyday attention or could benefit from automation. Our focus will always be on supporting the key tasks that will grow our business and making sensible decisions around where we prioritise both resource and cost.

What innovations in the industry are you most excited about?

I am particularly excited about the potential positive impact virtual reality could make on healthcare. This could provide an immersive experience for patients providing for example a virtual procedure overview allowing patients to better understand the surgery and rehabilitation requirements post op. The cross over into enhanced digital solutions could also better support our distributors as they engage with customers on the ground especially where access to decision makers is compromised.

In the US where UPS have been conducting trials on drone delivered medical supplies, you can see potential advantages in speed of delivery of vital medical essentials, plus this could offer huge advantages to developing countries with remote populations. Drones operated by a US start-up called Zipline are already trialling drone deliveries in Ghana and Rwanda.

Both Google and Microsoft are focussing significant time and resources on developing the benefits that Artificial Intelligence could bring to healthcare. There is potential to improve not only patient experiences but also to provide improved clinical insight and support better models of care. There are already projects ongoing for the likes of Parkinson’s where potential benefits exist in not only improving diagnostics but also improving disease management.  This provides huge opportunity for SME’s in the MedTech space to collaborate with some of the big players and may even lead to future investment or acquisition.

What do you consider when cultivating a culture that is uniquely right for your business?

At Medovate we all work incredibly hard to create a positive culture. This is important as a start-up as we all wear lots of different hats and a ‘do-er’ mentality is key. We really strive to encourage positive communication and we welcome new ideas. This is easier to do currently as we have a small team, but it is important as we grow that we continue to foster that collaborative environment.

We endeavour to keep a high level of communication across the business, and this is even more important now we are all working remotely, not just between the management team but across all levels and functions. That openness and transparency is important as it builds a sense of ownership across the organisation.

Covid-19 has placed increased challenges on our colleagues as we moved to home working back in March. Understanding the impact this is having on everyone and demonstrating high levels of emotional intelligence is important as this is a challenging time for everyone.

We will be reviewing our culture as we grow as a business, but for me the overriding priority is that we treat humans as humans, not machines.

How do you see the future of work and what role does it play in company culture?

Like most businesses, remote working has become a requirement as the Covid-19 pandemic grew. Our initial priorities were ensuring that we had business continuity as we adapted to the new requirements. It is likely that for many of us our home will continue to be our office for the foreseeable future. It is therefore more important than ever for us to consider the cultural impact working from home has on our business and our employees.

We have done all we can to instil a caring culture at Medovate; it is hard for people at the moment. Balancing work with caring for children especially if schooling is impacted. We understand what impact lockdowns will have on mental health and for some people increased feelings of insecurity. We have increased the number of one to one catch ups across the business and our weekly online team meetings also provide an opportunity for people to speak up, share concerns and be heard.

So, for the foreseeable future, remote working is likely to be the norm. As we develop and build an outcome driven culture, one that challenges and holds people accountable, we must also ensure that we listen, adjust if necessary and support our employees during this challenging period.

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