Cassells has 20 years’ experience in the medical device industry, leading a number of international expansion projects and holding senior management positions in a number of multinational companies including Medtronic, Conor Medsystems, Kinetic Concepts and American Medical Systems. He is now managing director of connected health medtech company Renew Health

Why medtech?

Ireland is one of the key medtech hubs in the world and so, as an Engineering graduate, it was a logical place to start my career. What I really enjoy, and something that has particularly been the case at Renew Health, is that the work is so varied. It’s also heartening that we make products that benefit people’s lives – be that a product to detect and diagnose a medical issue, or a device that can treat an otherwise debilitating condition. From monitoring devices to software, it’s a new challenge every day.

What does your day-to-day work involve?

No two days are the same. As managing director of the Renew Health team in Europe, my key focus is building and leading the team. I am fortunate to work with a great group of people. The varied challenges and opportunities at Renew keep the team motivated and I support by helping them to manage their increasing workload. I set aside time to ensure that the right resource is dedicated to the right task and prioritising the most important projects. As we are very much a multinational organisation, much of my day is spent on the phone or online with other markets, for example in the US and Singapore. There is a huge advantage to being located in Ireland, you can catch people in the Singapore office before the end of their day and also reach out to the US too when they start their day. It can at times make for long days though.

What is a key frustration of your job?

One of the key frustrations is that sometimes I think we make things too complicated. While we work in an industry with important regulations that govern how products are manufactured, controlled and sold, sometimes I feel our industry makes things too complex, which has a knock-on effect on the time it takes to execute projects, our founder has a motto that I try and live by – “Think Big, Keep it Simple and Make it Happen.”

What do you see as the most exciting product developed by Renew?

We have a great portfolio of products at Renew Health but one of the most exciting is the Zensor device, which is used to detect the heart condition Atrial Fibrillation (AF). There are approximately 1.2 million people with AF in the UK with an estimated further half a million who are undiagnosed. Each year, AF is responsible for 24,000 strokes and the lifetime risk of developing AF in adults 40 years old or older is one in four. The Zensor device is unique as it is a three-lead, 14-day continuous ECG and remote event monitor for the diagnosis of arrhythmias including AF. Designed as a reusable system, the Zensor device is associated with improved patient AF detection, substantial savings and streamlined clinical workflow compared with single-patient use systems.

What products do you feel could make the most difference to patients?

In our portfolio we have a very unique product for patients with a devastating condition called temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD causes pain and tenderness in the muscles and joints that control the jaw. More than 12% of adults suffer from chronic facial pain, jaw pain or headaches – all of which may be related to TMD. The pain associated with TMD can be severely debilitating and have a major impact on quality of life. Our product, Cerezen, treats TMD with a unique approach. Rather than asking people to use mouth guards and/or splints to reduce clenching of the jaw muscles, the product is an in-ear device. This unique, pioneering medical device is clinically effective and custom made to fit each patient, making it the most advanced treatment on the market for TMD. When we hear feedback from patients who previously had no success with other treatment approaches before using Cerezen, we get a great sense of pride. To have a product on the market that makes such a difference to patients shows that working in the healthcare industry can be incredibly fulfilling.

Is it becoming easier for small medtech companies to break into the NHS? What are the key barriers?

It’s never easy to break into the NHS. Because of the way the NHS is structured, we have found the best approach is to be working with one Trust at a time. Our most successful projects in the UK have been tightly focused. The challenge is that there are hundreds of Trusts that are often run like different organisations and that can be a challenge.

What are your thoughts on the government’s drive for the NHS to embrace new technologies?

As a company with new technologies, we welcome any initiative that supports the advancement of technology in the NHS. Advances in technology can be transformative for healthcare providers and patients, saving lives, driving efficiencies and supporting medical professionals. When you see the pressure on the NHS, with NHS England this year suffering the worst waiting times on record, it is clear that digital transformation is urgently needed.  Keeping people out of hospital through advanced home care should be an imperative.  Getting people diagnosed, treated and back in their community as quickly as possible, is possible with new technology. Sustainable, accessible care is a priority for all health care systems, including the NHS, but health spending is on an unsustainable trajectory and the demand for care is rising. I hope that the potential funds being planned will transform technology in hospitals, improve care and give more patients access to health services at home.

What’s the achievement you are most proud of?

I am most proud of the business I have helped build with the team at Renew Health. When I joined in 2014 there were four people in the European office. Now we have almost 100 staff across Europe and the US and four products in the market. I am very fortunate to have a team that strives every day to make a difference to people’s lives. I am also particularly proud of the fact that this team are so open to change. In a business that is growing and developing so quickly, being able to facilitate and thrive in an environment that continually moves and changes is very important.

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