In business and in life, it generally pays to surround yourself with smart people. Of course, not everyone can be an expert in everything — and this is where Cambridge Consultants (Cambridge, U.K.) can step in. The company works across a variety of disciplines to provide assistance at every stage, including technology consulting and concept strategy, and full product and service development. In essence, the company’s diverse skill set helps others work smarter.
For nearly three years, Dr. Luis Diaz-Santana has served as the head of ophthalmology for Cambridge Consultants, where his experience in optics and related technologies translates into tangible results for ophthalmic companies. Below, he discusses how start-ups and bigger companies can utilize these types of services to their advantage.
Providing Smart Solutions
In his role of head of ophthalmology for Cambridge Consultants, Dr. Diaz-Santana is somewhat of a problem-solver. “I identify where there are opportunities. For example, where are the potential clients and what are their needs?” he explained. Once the market need is identified, he then works with a team to assess and solve the challenges.
While sometimes they will approach companies directly to manufacture products, other times it boils down to meeting people and explaining what the company does. “Once they understand that we can help them to solve really difficult problems — that perhaps they don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to solve — we can set up a program together to develop that new product,” said Dr. Diaz-Santana, adding that clients are typically bigger multinational companies and start-ups, versus SMEs.
Like pieces of a puzzle coming together, Dr. Diaz-Santana said that at Cambridge Consultants, they play to the strengths and gaps in the organizations they work with. “If I’m going to be working with someone that makes contact lenses, I’m not going to pitch chemistry or polymer science because they are the experts — but there may be some interesting new manufacturing method that we can talk to them about, or maybe they’re interested in making a new electronic contact lens that measures glucose,” he said. “We have the capability to bridge the expertise gap to create these new breakthrough products.”
Speaking of breakthrough products, the company’s expertise extends beyond ophthalmology: They were recently invited by the U.K. government to develop and produce ventilators to aid in the COVID-19 pandemic. Cambridge Consultants was one of four companies selected to design a ventilator in six weeks, according to Dr. Diaz-Santana. “Ours was the most sophisticated. We built it from scratch and it could cope with patients going in and out of consciousness,” he said, adding that their ventilator is complete and ready for approval if it’s needed.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, everything is a bit (or a lot) topsy-turvy. The manufacturing of new surgical tools and devices has slowed, and this seems like a long-term challenge, said Dr. Diaz-Santana. On the flipside, he expects big advances from telemedicine — especially in the short-term.
Obvious challenges persist in telemedicine — ophthalmology is largely an in-person (and up close) practice. But until COVID-19 abates, providing safe and efficient treatment to patients — as well as monitoring those with chronic, degenerative diseases like glaucoma and AMD — remains a priority. This is where telemedicine can be further developed in ophthalmic practice, said Dr. Diaz-Santana.
He concluded: “What is it that you can do to help monitor their eye health from home? What devices can you make that would help? I think there are a lot of things in between taking a selfie and sending it to your doctor, to having something that can monitor your eye health in clever ways by using good data.”
Editor’s Note: This story is part of the continuing ‘Q&A from Quarantine’ series of PIE Talks, where Matt Young (CEO of Media MICE and Publisher of PIE and CAKE magazines), during the time of COVID-19 lockdown, reached out to KOLs and industry friends to evaluate and discuss the impact of this pandemic to the ophthalmic world.