Delivering innovation to the market through data

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Jeff Dunkel

Jeff Dunkel, vice president of strategic partnership at Titan Spine, talks exclusively to Spinal News International about his appointment to the Executive Operations Committee of the Medical Device Epidemiology Network Initiative.


What kind of responsibility does the MDEpiNet Executive Operations Committee have?

The MDEpiNet Initiative is an FDA-sponsored collaboration of industry, medical, administrative, and academic experts who are striving to advance medical device evidence-based medicine.  This includes the need to create a national medical device registry, collaboration with patient centred research programs, and communication between all sectors of patient care.  

What does that mean?  Suppose, you had a loved one who needs to have a medical procedure. You want the best short and long term outcomes, and the lowest associated risk. You and the doctor already know that varying treatments factors will create varying results. You are now wondering what the best way is to determine the right patient selection, the right doctor, the right technique, the right medical device(s), et cetera.  There is a growing belief that best data comes from matching a current patient to past patients with the same demographic profile (characteristics, prognosis, comorbidities, and underlying illnesses) and then evaluating real world data on historical treatments to learn what worked well or poorly.  Through this “patient like me” model, we can also look for trends on which medical devices or procedural techniques are advancing patient care, are outcome and safety neutral, or have a negative impact.   

Do you have any specific goals following this appointment?

We are always creating and completing stage goals that advance this project. The short term goals are all building blocks towards the end goal.

Imagine treating all medical treatment and patient data as if it is rolling into the world’s largest ongoing clinical trial, and using that data to constantly populate and update treatment options that impact patient outcomes and safety. That would give us a constantly evolving equivalent of consumer reports for medical devices that could be as population general or patient specific as a doctor wanted.  That is what we are working towards.    

How has your work with Titan Spine prepared you for this position?

MDEpiNet is in the process of delivering innovation through data to the market.  Their patient-first focus, defined skill sets needed, strategic goals, desired metrics, and path to success mean that there is a lot of strategic overlap between MDEpiNet’s Executive Operation Board and Titan Spine’s
Executive Board.  I believe Titan Spine’s market success stems from delivering unique products to the market that advance patient care and improve outcomes. The company heavily invests in creating data and educating the marketplace to provide product value. Titan Spine regularly assesses evolving needs and meets those needs by accumulating talented and motivated people that help enhance and sustain progress forward.

With this strategy Titan has advanced from a patient driven concept, to a commercially viable option, to a national presence, to an industry standard.  I believe exposure with one group leads to success with the other.

How will this position influence your role at Titan Spine, and the direction of the company itself?

My position with MDEpiNet will have a synergistic effect on my role at Titan Spine, since we are already working toward the same goals.

Collaborating with national experts at MDEpiNet on evidence-based medicine complements the scientific and patient driven model already in place at Titan Spine. This provides confirmation that our products and market approach are both at the forefront of our industry. We understand the importance of keeping a data- and education-driven company aligned to national efforts that support data and guide patient care. We strive to participate in discussions around critical outcomes and safety metrics and understand what industry outcomes will be critical moving forward.

I would keep a close eye on this company.  I do not want to give away too much now, but we are expecting big things.