Meet The Disruptors: Dr Adam Power Of Front Line Medical Technologies On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
“Don’t quit your day job.” My day job was being a vascular surgeon and many people wondered why I was taking such a big risk outside of my area of expertise in the entrepreneurial space. Even though I was initially told this in jest, I truly embrace these words now because my day job enables me to have a unique perspective on how the medical devices that we are developing affect those on the front lines.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Adam Power.
Dr. Adam Power is an Associate Professor in the Division of Vascular Surgery at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Power completed a general surgery residency at McMaster University and a vascular surgery fellowship at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Power’s research interests include innovation and medical device development, and he is Chief Medical Officer of Front Line Medical Technologies Inc.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
The most unique thing about me is that I am not unique. I have an identical twin brother, who is also a surgeon and has pushed me to be a better human being from day 1. We both went to medical school and diverged when he went into urological surgery and I ultimately ended up in vascular surgery. We jokingly say that we are both human plumbers… I deal in the red and he in the yellow.
When I was in my first year of surgical residency, I didn’t want to do the typical chart review research that most junior residents do. I have always been inventive by nature and figured it was as good a time as any to light up my creative juices. I ended up inventing a new medical device that helped with minimally invasive surgery. I filed a patent, prototyped the device at a local machine shop, piloted the device in animals, and presented an abstract of the research at an international meeting. I then waited for the industry to come knocking … but they never came. So, I went knocking! In those initial elevator pitches, before I even knew what an elevator pitch was, I learned very quickly that I needed to learn the language of the industry to better convince others of my ideas. I, therefore, pushed pause on my surgical residency and went to Cambridge University to complete a Master’s degree in BioScience Enterprise. I also had my first medical device startup company in the UK and learned an immense amount about what it takes to make a successful company.
Fast Forward a few years and a few patents later and I met a Ph.D. Biomedical Engineer named Asha Parekh, while I was working as an academic vascular surgeon in London, Ontario, Canada. Asha and I shared a passion for innovation combined with the desire to make an impact in patients’ lives, which was the beginning of Front Line Medical Technologies Inc. We both realized that if we were ever going to see one of our inventions help a patient in our lifetimes then we were going to have to do it ourselves.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Surgeons are taught to use existing tools to accomplish a certain task. We are told that if you can’t accomplish the task, then you aren’t a good surgeon. “A good carpenter never blames his tools.” I think my work is disruptive because I tend to blame the tools (at least a little bit) and then try to come up with something better. I believe that simplifying medical devices to accomplish complex procedures is key to treating more patients with fewer complications.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake that I made when we were first starting is that I kept looking for jobs for my partner Asha, “in case this whole thing doesn’t work out.” Even from the beginning, she has never wavered in her belief that we would succeed. The lesson I learned is to choose your co-founding partners wisely. People are the reason companies survive and not products.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I think my biggest mentors are my patients. They have taught me valuable lessons in the past and continue to teach me every day. As a vascular surgeon, I, unfortunately, must operate on very sick patients who are often bleeding to death, like in major abdominal bleeding following a trauma. You only fail a patient once before you are ignited to find better solutions. Our company has developed technologies that help very sick patients, and they are who I think about when we face any barriers.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
I think positive disruption in the medical device industry involves providing for improved patient outcomes delivered in a cost-effective manner. The better the outcomes and more cost-effective the treatments, the more disruptive they are. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to know these hard endpoints with a new disruptive medical device technology because it takes time to accrue the relevant data. This is why I have always been drawn to helping the sickest patients with the most difficult problems from both a clinical and industry perspective. The burden, therefore, falls on the innovators to help save patients that never had a chance before or simplify treatments to make them more affordable and have wider applicability. The burden should never fall on patients or healthcare systems to bear the brunt of a treatment that might not “stand the test of time.”
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
The best words of advice I have been given were said to me more as a joke from various colleagues when I was starting this whole entrepreneurial journey: “Don’t quit your day job.” My day job was being a vascular surgeon and many people wondered why I was taking such a big risk outside of my area of expertise in the entrepreneurial space. Even though I was initially told this in jest, I truly embrace these words now because my day job enables me to have a unique perspective on how the medical devices that we are developing affect those on the front lines.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We are busy building a pipeline of products through our research and development activities. We are innovators at heart and love solving new problems to help patients. Our goal is to become a global leader in circulatory support medical devices.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I am a big fan of Sam Harris and his podcast Waking Up. I think that making sense of this chaotic world sometimes requires us to slow down and just be. He has many lessons on meditation that I have found extremely valuable. I also just finished the book “Four Thousand Weeks” by Oliver Burkeman, which really helped to put my life goals into perspective.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Be kind to yourself.” It is impossible to go through life and not make mistakes and have failures. I think we all need to be a little easier on ourselves when this happens.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Give more in this life than take. If the balance was shifted more toward others than ourselves, the world would be a better place.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!