What Do Walgreens and Medical Device Content Management Have in Common?

WalgreensAnswer: both employ automation to reduce cost. At Walgreens,  software algorithms are being used to help guide and standardize patient treatment. Based on “big data” from over 100 million patients, the pharmacy chain is proving that professional services can be semi-automated with helpful results. You can read about it here.

A similar scenario is playing out in the medical device industry. Manufacturers are learning that they can automate content by structuring it with XML/DITA. The process requires patience and effort (though easier than developing a software system for patient treatment). However, it yields big savings and risk reduction. Starting with the XML systems provided by  Astoria Software and Vasont Systems, and continuing through the translation process automation technologies of the GlobalLink suite, TransPerfect Medical Device Solutions has the services, know-how, and technologies necessary to automate your content and achieve sustainable cost and risk reduction.

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Don’t Get Yanukovych’d

Yanukovych_WEB-readyShortly after Yanukovych was ousted as Ukraine’s President, the Ukrainian Parliament repealed a recent law allowing the use of “regional languages” like Russian.  Language has long been been tied up with issues of nationalism and national identity and can often be something of a “land mine” (not to be indelicate in the current, tense, situation).

If you think that these types of language sensitivities don’t apply to the medical device industry, you’re wrong. On one recent client visit, I heard a story of how the company had sent Russian instructions to a location in Estonia…not realizing the reaction that it might provoke (after the Soviet domination of the Baltic States). The result? Even though an exemption could have been written, the client demanded everything in Estonian and at a significant cost. The moral of the story? Know the political implications of your language choices when doing business abroad.

“Milder Than Expected” Device Tax Costs 33,000 Med Device Jobs, Impacts 132,000 Others

Advamed_for-web

MassDevice.com was a little schizophrenic in reporting the effects of the medical device tax, as outlined in a striking new Advamed report. According to their first post (2/12) the Device Tax’s impact was “milder than expected”…but their later post (2/18) states that 33,000 jobs have been lost in the industry already. So, what gives?

Well, it turns out that 53% of senior-level respondents had predicted “somewhat negative” or “very negative” effects when, after the fact, 45% actually experienced these negative effects. I guess that’s somewhat milder, but not by much.

At first blush, you might be tempted to say “this is an industry-sponsored report and exaggerated” but the scope of the survey suggests otherwise – responses came from 38 companies, accounting for 40% of domestic medical device revenue…45% had revenue below $100 million, the rest were above.

Other notable negative consequences reported by AdvaMed include:

  • 30.6% said they had reduced R&D
  • 10% said they were relocating manufacturing overseas
  • 58% were considering layoffs if tax is not repealed
  • 50% were considering reducing R&D if tax is not repealed

Not a pretty picture.

A Localization Within a Localization

fortune-cookie-1

For everyone who wrestles with marketing translation (sorry, localization), you may appreciate this story (and short video) from NPR.

Turns out, many Americans living in China miss really good Chinese food…well, Chinese food as they remember it in America, anyway.  So, a couple of enterprising Chinese Americans opened Fortune Cookie in Shanghai – a restaurant serving up the Americanized form of Chinese food to US expats and curious Chinese.

Aside from the humorous aspects of this story (the Chinese staff had only seen the white take-out boxes in Hollywood movies, so took pictures when they first saw them in real life), it does hold a lesson for medical device marketers, and the lesson is this:  sometimes a US-centric message, if it’s the right one, can be adapted and succeed quite nicely in the local market. Not everything has to be created whole-cloth, in-country.

The Most Popular Post Ever

According to Crimson Audit, Review, & Consulting, in over 4 years, their most popular post (by far) has been this:  Labeling Errors are Leading Cause of Device Recall.

With the growing interest in XML publishing in the medical device industry, this information is now more relevant than ever.  Our Astoria and Vasont divisions provide validated systems for device makers like GE Healthcare, Medtronic, and J&J because these systems can reduce localization costs by 40%…but, as you might guess, this level of savings comes at a cost.

The strength of these systems is that they manage content in a “single source” – there is one version of a content chunk (topic) which is reused in other publications or channels. However, if the content contains an error (in the English source or translated target), that error gets replicated out multiple times – this is a classic “propagation risk” and it has very real implications for labeling accuracy and device recall.

The best solution is also a classic: the quality systems principle of “quality at the source”. For translation, it means that appropriate risk management must be employed to produce XML -based translated content. This not only minimizes propagation risk, it also reduces the risk of device recall due to labeling errors.

Device Growth to Outpace Pharma Through 2018…But Then What?

medical funding

A recent EvaluateMedTech report from Evaluate Group predicts that medtech (4.5% CAGR) will outperform pharma (3.8% CAGR) between now and 2018 – that’s the good news.

The bad news is that VC investment in the medical device industry dropped 17% in 2013 versus 2012….in 2012, VC investment dropped by 13%. A good analysis is available at FierceMedicalDevices.

What does this mean for industry? Considering the time and financial resources required to develop, conduct clinical trials, and commercialize devices, it means that we will be facing a significant fall-off in device innovation in the coming years…which is not great news for long-term industry growth.

The game has changed for devices in recent years – products must now demonstrate value as well as improve the standard of care…new hurdles that introduce investment risks that early-stage VCs seem to be avoiding. Unless new funding sources can be developed (crowdfunding?) the medical device industry, long considered an innovation leader, may become a laggard. 

 

TransPerfect Doubles Down on XML Publishing for Medical Device

Recent news highlights the growing importance of XML publishing for the medical device industry: Just before the holidays, TransPerfect announced a merger with Vasont Systems – a leader in componet content management systems for the medical device industry. With the addition of Vasont, TransPerfect adds another XML publishing technology – one that is already in place with medical device manufacturers such as Medtronic and J&J – on top of existing XML technology from Astoria Sofware.

Why is TransPerfect doubling-down on XML technology for medical device? Our work with device manufacturers demonstrates a 50% reduction in labeling cost and turnaround with this automated approach to publishing. In some cases, formatting and formatting QC activities can represent as much 70% of translation turnaround time! Given the cost and margin pressures facing manufacturers today, it’s small wonder that interest in XML publishing is at an all-time high. In response, the Vasont merger substantially broadens the XML technology and service offering available to device makers through TransPerfect Medical Device Solutions.

Press Release_Vasont merger