Industry Insider is a timely chat with an ophthalmic industry thought leader.
Michael Onuscheck has served as Alcon’s president of global business and innovation since November 2018, after joining the company as its global franchise surgical head in 2015. Before that, he spent 10 years in leadership positions at Boston Scientific. In this interview, he discusses Alcon’s plans to further physician education, help streamline the OR and more.
Ophthalmology Management: Alcon has recently put a premium on physician education. Why is that an emphasis for Alcon?
Michael Onuscheck: The Alcon Experience Academy and our Retina Fellows Institute are both recent examples that illustrate our commitment to offer industry-leading educational resources to support practitioners in providing the best patient care.
Learning doesn’t have to mean listening to a lecture. When we invite practitioners to participate in our on-site training at one of our 26 training centers or 42 wet labs across the world, it’s designed as a hands-on experience. In addition, we have six world-class Alcon Experience Centers that provide a similar experience with Alcon’s technologies and immersive, face-to-face interaction, including virtual reality training.
We wanted to bring this education to an even wider audience, which led to the recent launch of the Alcon Experience Academy (www.AlconExperienceAcademy.com ), an online educational website with regularly updated videos developed by leading eye-care specialists. The site is visited every day by industry professionals across the world. Also, we plan to host global webcasts to encourage health-care professionals to remotely join the discussion on the latest trending topics within eye care.
In a similar way, the inaugural Retina Fellows Institute launched late last year. Thanks to the world-class faculty who led the experiential surgical trainings, it was a tremendous success. The participants were some of the industry’s rising stars, and our goal was to enhance patient outcomes by bridging the gaps in education and experience for key surgical procedures.
OM: What updates can you give us on the technologies Alcon showcased at AAO?
MO: If there was a common theme among the technologies we showed, it’s our commitment to innovate in ways that streamline the surgical experience inside the operating room.
For example, the NGENUITY 3D Visualization System, which gives retinal surgeons unprecedented 3D visualization of the back of the eye, now includes DATAFUSION software. This allows NGENUITY to integrate with the CONSTELLATION Vision System and place all of the valuable surgical parameters in the field of view of the surgery.
In addition, ORA System with VerifEye+ technology offers an intraoperative aberrometer that provides real-time guidance and verification for cataract refractive surgery. With the latest feature enhancements, the system makes continuous assessment of the patient’s eye throughout the procedure; using this data, the system makes IOL sphere, cylinder and alignment suggestions to assist the cataract surgeon in making a final decision on implant position.
Also, at AAO we featured the Preloaded UltraSert IOL Delivery System, which offers surgeons user-friendly delivery of a pristine, untouched IOL with less device preparation time than manually loaded IOLs.
OM: Alcon is currently developing SMART Suite, which can integrate numerous pieces of equipment and systems for use with cataract surgery. What is the benefit to ophthalmologists of such “integrated operating rooms”?
MO: In conversations with customers, we repeatedly hear that ophthalmologists want technologies that make it easier to achieve better outcomes at a lower cost with less complexity. SMART Suite enables surgeons to analyze and optimize their plans for surgery. It is a perfect example of how to streamline the back office work and improve cataract surgery by connecting multiple diagnostic through a digital, open cloud-based infrastructure.
As development of the SMART Suite advances, we’re collaborating inside and outside the industry to bring together the best expertise. For example, currently we’re working closely with Philips HealthSuite to develop the SMART Planning application and platform that will enable SMART Suite to fit seamlessly into customers’ practices. We’ve also enlisted a team of surgeons we call the Digital Health Advisory Council to provide consultations on how this can best integrate into ophthalmic practices.
As the year progresses, you can expect more announcements about how SMART Suite will connect diagnostic equipment, EMR systems and technologies in our Cataract Refractive Suite.
OM: At your previous job, you oversaw business operations in Europe and Russia. What insight does that give you in your role at Alcon?
MO: At Alcon, we view the relationship with our customers as central to our success. Since Alcon has such a global footprint, I think having direct experience in other global markets brings a local perspective that is invaluable with launching new innovation or meeting the needs of our global customers. It’s also one of the reasons we have more than 1,200 service engineers plus hundreds of clinical applications team members deployed across the globe.
When customers are scattered throughout the world, I’ve learned that our products must not only be technically advanced, but also ensure we’ve provided in-market, personalized service to meet their needs. OM