Sensor Medical Technology


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June 22, 2015 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Sterile, Single Use Ophthalmic Devices and Components


Greg Heacock



Sensor Medical Technology


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – June 22, 2015


CEOCFO: Dr. Heacock, what is the idea behind Sensor Medical Technology?

Dr. Heacock: We are primarily a medical optics company specializing in sterile, single use devices and components, which is an interesting niche. In addition to the optics, we have a related program that is our color change technology for controlling re-use of medical devices.


The initial concept for the company arose when we observed doctors in the field of ophthalmology and optometry using expensive, reusable devices that are made of glass. After the lens had touched the eye, it was the doctor’s responsibility to sterilize or disinfect the device and this cleaning process had a notable cost. Our idea was to develop a new technology to make high quality, inexpensive optics so that single use lenses would be an attractive alternative. We have done that with success.


CEOCFO: What were the challenges in first creating the technology and then getting it to be affordable?

Dr. Heacock: First was the background work to find out how much it actually costs to do disinfection or sterilization, because there are many hidden costs there. Often providers do not realize that it costs them $22 or in some cases $46, to clean or sterilize a device before it goes into the clinic or operating room. We established that cost point and then worked backwards, so we knew that we could have a margin and a real business, but also supply devices of the very highest quality to be equivalent to the kinds of devices these doctors have been using since the 1950s.


CEOCFO: Were there any concerns from the doctors that a disposable may not be as good as an optic that had to be sterilized for reuse?

Dr. Heacock: You have touched on exactly the crux of the matter and the difficult bar that we had to get over. In fact, we had to develop the technology such that the optics were better than what existed in the marketplace, because of the perception that single use was going to be garbage. It took us nearly eight years to develop the technology and now our single use optics are actually better than the existing reusable optics.


CEOCFO: How did you get the doctors to believe in your product?

Dr. Heacock: For the first two years, we gave away many lenses. We would go to conferences and trade shows and ask doctors what their favorite lens was. We literally gave them that lens, which is an amazing thing. In the past they would have paid $500 to $1000 per reusable lens, but we handed them a lens and told them that if they liked it they should get in touch with us. We sell these lenses for around $10 a piece, so for them it is just astounding as they think through the convenience, costs and infection control compliance. Large Veterans Administration hospitals that have done the cost benefit analysis know that their cleaning and disinfecting costs up to $46 a lens. Instead, they can buy a lens from us for $10. We have 48 skews now, so we cover almost all of their needs various kinds of procedures.


CEOCFO: Are there other benefits to a single use lens?

Dr. Heacock: We honestly believe that single use is the way to go. Number one, no clinic wants to take 20 minutes to properly disinfect these optics. In a big hospital system with centralized disinfecting or sterilization, these lenses get put in a tray and sent away for processing. We have heard many stories that lenses do not come back; things get lost, scratched or even broken. Then the doctor has a list of patients that have to get done that day and the equipment is not available. So there are many more reasons for single use, such as convenience, and knowing in your mind that you do not have to worry about disease transmission between patients. If the patient that you did the procedure on has a very red eye from a virus, you do not have to worry if it was because a lens was not disinfected properly. We really care about the doctors and the patients, and we think single use is good medicine.


CEOCFO: Once a medical practice, doctor or hospital starts to use one of your products, do they tend to quickly make use of the others or is getting them to add products somewhat of a struggle?

Dr. Heacock: It depends on the practice type and nature of their work. The hospitals tend to embrace the products quickly. Smaller practices may have more limited requirements. They might initially just want a few lenses around for diagnostic purposes, because they have a short list of HIV or hepatitis patients they see on occasion. Then they realize that the optics are nice and the convenience is there. If we can get them to think about using single use lenses for their challenging patients, we do actually see them switch. It may take three months and sometimes up to a year. We actually see in our sales data that once a doctor tries our lenses, they convert themselves.


CEOCFO: Are the doctors ordering directly from you or through distributors?

Dr. Heacock: We have a distribution network serving most countries worldwide. Doctors and hospitals in the US can purchase directly from us and, in addition, we do private labeling for a few notable public companies. So under another company’s name doctors are buying our lenses. It is nice to see that through our distribution network, our private label partners and our website, that doctors can get our lenses. In Europe, the acceptance is wonderful and in the United States, in the big hospital systems we are really getting fabulous volumes. On our website, we see doctors in the US ordering at 11pm since they are so busy during the daytime.


CEOCFO: Would emerging markets be a potential for you or do they not do enough procedures?

Dr. Heacock: Emerging markets see us as a low cost way to get products that have really high quality optics. In some situations, this is an issue for us, and in fact, that leads me to comment about the second program within our company. We make and promote single use medical optics, but in some markets, our products are reused. In response, we developed a color indicator technology that can be applied to our products. We will be deploying this technology soon. Once the doctor opens the pouch and takes the lens out, the product changes color to let them know that this single use device has been out of its pouch for a period of time. It depends on how we set the indicator timer. It can be set from 15 minutes to months. This reminds them that our product is for single use. For things like urethral catheters, we have great interest from outside companies that want to make an indicator timer that lets a nurse know that 72 hours are up and that they should replace the catheter. We had to develop this technology because we are a single use medical device company and we have the same problem that every single use medical device company has… single use devices are sometimes inappropriately reused.


CEOCFO: Are there lens in ophthalmology that you have not addressed yet or do you pretty much have it covered at this point?

Dr. Heacock: Currently we are happy with the product range but we always look for the next opportunity. New procedures or trends may appear or we will be approached by one of our distributors with three important doctors working on a new lens. We do the analysis, as we want to make sure that it makes sense for us. It is not trivial to take a $700 device and turn it into something that has better quality and an end user price of $10. We are always in product development and product conversion mode.


CEOCFO: Where do you manufacture?

Dr. Heacock: We have a site here in Maple Valley, Washington State, one in Waltham, Massachusetts and another in Taiwan.


CEOCFO: What might be different a year from now?

Dr. Heacock: We have some interesting things happening in other medical fields too. Once people see that we have attacked what I consider the most difficult medical market, ophthalmology where the surgeon really cares about the images that they are looking at, we get to consider products from other industries. We get approaches from other fields such as endoscope companies or a company that makes microscopes for doing surgeries around the head and neck, which can be a pretty messy surgery; they need a disposable objective lens. Therefore, companies approach us because they know that if we can do ophthalmology, we can probably do something to help them as well. It is a great avenue for expansion.


CEOCFO: What surprised you as Sensor Medical Technology has grown and evolved?

Dr. Heacock: The product acceptance. We knew we did our homework to make great optics at a good price, but to hear a chief of ophthalmology of a large hospital tell us that she wanted to cry when she the heard about us because we are their solution to a big infection control compliance issue really makes us feel like we are on target.


CEOCFO: Put it together for our readers. Why pay attention to Sensor Medical Technology?

Dr. Heacock: Our technology is astounding and has allowed us to impact the market in a short period of time. We have developed technology and filed many patents and continue to do so. Although we are not a big company, we are not casual about IP and we have a great deal of patents and trade secrets. Along with that, we really care about the doctors and patients. We have a saying “We have great optics at a fair price”. We can approach a hospital knowing that we will save them money and help them offer improved medical care. We have a good margin and we do not have to gouge the doctor to achieve that. With a good business like this, everyone wins, including the doctor, the clinic and the patients.


CEOCFO: Final thoughts?

Dr. Heacock: I think that in two or three years we will have this conversation and talk about more about color change technology. Medical devices that change color and notify the caregiver be that in the hospital, private clinic or home. Whether it is a urethral catheter or feeding tube, medical devices should indicate when it is time to change. That is something that we are going to be working on in the coming years and I think that is going to be as exciting as the single use medical optics.


“Our technology is astounding and has allowed us to impact the market in a short period of time… We have a saying “We have great optics at a fair price”. We can approach a hospital knowing that we will save them money and help them offer improved medical care. We have a good margin and we do not have to gouge the doctor to achieve that. With a good business like this, everyone wins, including the doctor, the clinic and the patients.”
- Greg Heacock


Sensor Medical Technology


Greg Heacock

425 358 7381






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