Medical Technology of the Future, Today

Device Technologies

In Australia, one company is committed to not only seeing these innovative technologies in the nation’s public and private hospitals, but to providing the support and training necessary to ensure health care professionals can do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

Whilst some companies selling medical equipment are content to simply have a salesperson talk to doctors and other staff at hospitals, have the items delivered, and come back whenever another order needs to be placed, at Device Technologies Australia Pty Ltd, the exact opposite remains true to this day, as Device Technologies is firmly established in seeking out the latest products worldwide, delivering, training, servicing, and working hand-in-hand with customers every step of the way.

In his early career, Peter Ord and several of his friends worked in the medical device arena for his father’s company. In time, the group decided to form their own company. From the early days in a small Sydney garage in 1992, Device Technologies has grown into a multi-million-dollar enterprise with fully-owned subsidiaries in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and a skincare product operation in the United States. Despite significant growth and having a staff of over 600, the company remains as focused and dedicated to providing patient access to world-class medical technologies as ever.

“How we differentiated ourselves from the large multinationals in the beginning was that we could basically look for technology worldwide. Whereas most of the multinationals were affiliated with only a UK company or a US-based company, they could only pull from the technology that their head office developed,” says Peter Ord, the Chief Executive Officer for Device Technologies.

Since the company was unencumbered by selling the products from only one company, it was free to investigate the best devices from across the globe. In the early days Mr Ord and his team travelled extensively to seek out medical device manufacturers, make contacts, read trade magazines, meet personally with company representatives at their offices and at conferences and discuss the growing opportunities available in Australia and New Zealand. “Based on that, people had confidence in us, and gave us the right and the opportunity to sell their products,” says Mr Ord, who today has a team of half a dozen staff dedicated to investigating new technologies worldwide.

Dedicated to Training

At Device Technologies, education is an ongoing quest. Long before clients are taught how to use their new medical technology, the company’s staff must first become specialists in every detail of the products they sell to best serve all interests. According to Device Technologies’ Director of Sales and Marketing Michael Trevaskis – who joined the company in 1998 as the Orthopaedic Product Specialist and is today responsible for the management of all sales and marketing activities – the company’s founders had three guiding principles from the beginning: provide the best sales and marketing people with the best professional training, seek out the best innovative medical technology, and have fun at the same time.

“When Device Technologies was formed, it was because the founders saw opportunities in the marketplace and recognised areas they could improve on,” says Mr Trevaskis. “These included professional sales people in the marketplace who were properly trained, not just ‘order takers,’ which is the basis on which we recruit.” Additionally, the company saw the growing need for new technologies to benefit Australia’s ageing population and as Mr Trevaskis says, “we made the decision that the business and the products we sold would have innovative medical technology and we would go for innovation that was coming out for the future, rather than technology of the past.”

These principles, along with maintaining an upbeat work environment, are still taught to new staff and help underpin the success of the business. At Device Technologies, the skill base ranges from backgrounds in the medical field to highly experienced sales and marketing personnel. Unlike many large businesses, Device Technologies does not subscribe to the classical Human Resources model to handle hiring, choosing instead to use its management team to recruit staff. Some are hired by word of mouth; others are seen as being a good fit for the business. “Once they come in here, we support them and provide the necessary training to bring them up to the ethics and standards of Device Technologies,” explains Mr Ord. “The three key areas we look for that underpin our recruitment process are motivation, energy levels, and attitude.”

Device Technologies offers training for all its products. Every branch across Australia has a training facility and clinical educators who do not sell, but educate the client in how to use products. “We get customers comfortable in the way to use the product,” says Mr Ord. “We’ve had training facilities right from the beginning. One of our differentiators from our competitors is that we educate the customer through extensive product training.”

To further its commitment to education and training, the Device Technologies Academy was formed five years ago, designed to ensure that all 600 staff are trained in best practice. “This makes us an employer of choice; the development of our people means that they can use these skills in our business, in their personal lives and in their future opportunities as well.” With 60 factory-trained service engineers across Australia and New Zealand, the company is able to service the equipment it sells on a 24/7 basis. “Anywhere that our technology is used, we guarantee that service support.”

The Latest Technologies

“Because we’re a private company, there’s a lot of motivation in the company to progress forward,” says Mr Ord. “Ever since Device Technologies started, we didn’t just go looking for technology, we went looking for solutions.” Along with offering clients an extensive range of products for anaesthesia, cardiology, diagnostic ultrasound, endoscopy, first aid, laparoscopy, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, urology and other areas, many of the devices distributed through the company have literally revolutionised how surgery is performed, the robotic da Vinci Surgical System being a prime example.

The world’s only robotic surgical system with full high-definition 3D vision, the da Vinci Surgical System is a “master / slave” system. This enables the surgeon (master) to be in direct control of the procedure, whilst the robot (slave) responds and performs the delicate and precise surgery. The latest da Vinci system launched in 2009, the Si, features an updated user interface for streamlined setup and operating room (OR) turnover, extensibility for digital OR integration, and dual-console capability to support training and collaboration. With a smaller OR footprint and the flexibility of roll-in / roll-out, it is smart technology that’s adaptable to different institutions’ needs. The 3D full HD visualisation with up to 10X magnification provides an immersive view of the operative field. The system also features EndoWrist® instrumentation – which provides for dexterity and a range of motion even greater than the human hand – as well as Intuitive® motion technology, which replicates the experience of open surgery by preserving natural eye-hand-instrument alignment.

“The da Vinci system is revolutionary,” says Mr Ord. “The master is the surgeon. With this technology, they can do heart valves, prostate surgery, gynaecology, cancer surgery, and more.” Able to perform surgery with incredible precision, the da Vinci system turns open surgery into minimally invasive surgery, which benefits not only the surgeons but the patients and the entire health care system.

Surgical complications, along with hospital-acquired infections, can result in readmissions, which can cost hospitals 10 times the amount of the original surgery. A multitude of publications have demonstrated that Robotic Surgery can enable patients to recover more quickly, return to their work and their lives faster and avoid a prolonged hospital stay. “We have technologies that have actually changed the way people do things. That’s where we’ve truly differentiated ourselves,” says Mr Trevaskis. “At Device Technologies, we are passionate about working with hospitals and government in preventing hospital-acquired infections; part of that is having patients well enough to return home as soon as possible.”

Reducing Infections

Along with da Vinci, Device Technologies has introduced many other medical products to the Australian health care system which make lives easier, simpler, less costly, and far more efficient. In public and private hospitals and clinics, sterilisation of equipment has always been a critical issue; one that has withstood the test of time in an ever-changing arena is the STERIS® System 1™ Express.

A Liquid Low Temperature Sterilisation system, STERIS provides a compelling option for the market. A Sterile Processing System, it provides high speed turnaround for clean, reusable, critical and semi-critical devices. Able to render products sterile in just 18 minutes, the STERIS system benefits not only medical facilities and patients, but the environment as well; it increases productivity, reduces resources, provides minimal costly inventories, and maximises procedures. Using the S40 Sterilant Concentrate, it boasts an improved cup design at the same time as being kinder to the environment. Performing two quick and safe rinse cycles, the system uses less energy and reduces water consumption by 20 litres per cycle. With a compact footprint, the Steris System 1™’s design makes it an ideal choice for a variety of locations within hospitals, day surgeries or private practices.

“STERIS is an infection control system used to sterilise products that cannot be sterilised by any other method,” remarks Mr Trevaskis. “This was the first of our true innovation and differentiation products.” Prior to the system, devices such as endoscopes were soaked in glutaraldehyde, now banned in a number of other countries. Since STERIS uses a safer sterilising agent in a closed system, there is no potentially harmful exposure to staff.

Device Technologies is addressing other issues in hospitals through technology, such as hand washing and cleanliness in operating theatres. Despite constant reminders, hand washing is still an issue in many hospitals, and one of the biggest means of transmitting infection-causing bacteria. Device Technology is introducing equipment which indicates if the staff member has washed his or her hands through small lapel indicators which change from white to blue to indicate they have pressed a soap dispenser to wash their hands. Additionally, the company is introducing a unique system which uses vaporised hydrogen peroxide to sterilise an OR, and can also be used in a closed room to ensure wheelchairs, walking frames, and other equipment is sterile.

Meeting Future Challenges

With rising health care costs and an ageing population, Australia’s health care system will need to adapt to new technologies in order to deliver services professionally, efficiently, and affordably. “Patients will have to be diagnosed smarter, and the decision made if they are to be treated in a hospital or at home,” says Mr Ord. “What’s going to happen in the future is that with new technologies coming out now, we’re going to be able to monitor that patient at home, and if that patient falls outside particular guidelines, then there will be an admittance to hospital.

“In the future, that patient won’t make hospital until the hospital is alerted to some parameters that the patient should be admitted. So that is the technology that we’re working on now. At Device Technologies, we want to be part of the solution that helps government and others, and we believe we can do that through our technology.”

Stem Cells

The scientific study of stem cells has existed for a long time and has already contributed greatly to modern medicine. As scientific inquiry continues to advance and as discoveries gain more traction and acceptance in the scientific and medical communities, the true breadth and potential of this area of study can start to be realized.

October 20, 2018, 11:28 AM AEDT

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