Industry Spotlight: R. Andrew Eckert, President and CEO, Acelity
Can you please provide a short description of your background, training, and experience?
Prior to joining Acelity, I served as the Chief Executive Officer in several organizations including Valence Health (Chicago, IL), a leader in value-based care, and TriZetto (Newport Beach, CA), a specialist in payer information technology. I began my career at ADAC Laboratories (Milpitas, CA), serving 4 years as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until its sale to Philips Medical Systems (Amsterdam, Netherlands) in 2000.
I’ve served on numerous corporate boards and am currently the Chairman of Varian Medical Systems (Palo Alto, CA) and a Director at Becton, Dickinson and Company (Franklin Lakes, NJ).
I earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and a Master of Business Administration, both from Stanford University (Standford, CA).
Why did you choose to lead Acelity?
Prior to joining in 2017, I wasn’t familiar with wound care. Since then, in learning about this business, I’ve been so impressed with this technology and the impact that it has on patients.
Acelity is the largest wound care company in the world and it is an exciting time to be here. Our people truly love what they do and are driven by sincerely helping people heal. It’s rewarding for me to lead this company and it’s exciting to oversee our transformation and deliver new solutions and therapies, such as our new surgical platform and our new offerings in digital health and connectivity.
The work we do every day makes a difference in people’s lives. It’s extremely humbling and gratifying to hear patients’ stories and meet with customers and clinicians and see firsthand how Acelity makes people’s lives better.
What do you like most about working at Acelity?
One of the things I appreciate most about working at Acelity is our focus on our customers. Our products lead the industry and our customer feedback is enviable for any industry. Our leadership position, innovation pipeline, and size, scale, and expertise allows us to rapidly develop and commercialize new therapies—it’s exciting to see that expansion.
What makes you the most proud of Acelity and of your employees?
I’m proud of our history of innovation but also of how we continue to live up to that history. Acelity has built upon its pioneering market leadership in negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) and revolutionized advanced wound care. But we don’t rest on our laurels here; we are constantly looking for new areas and categories where we can impact clinical practice.
What are some of Acelity’s biggest accomplishments thus far?
Since I joined Acelity last year, we’ve put in a new management team that is focused on delivering industry-leading growth through innovation and geographic expansion. We have started to recognize enormous opportunities in established and emerging markets where we are currently underpenetrated.
More recently, our acquisition of Crawford Healthcare solidified our ability to offer the most comprehensive line of wound care solutions, enabling us to create and consolidate leading positions in high-growth market segments.
What differentiates Acelity from competitors?
Acelity is unique to the marketplace because of its strong customer loyalty, rapid innovation program, and leading medical education platforms. Our core NPWT business leads the industry drive with innovative solutions, unmatched scale, and infrastructure. And the clinical evidence supporting our products is second-to-none.
What is the biggest challenge you face working in the realm of wound care?
One of the biggest challenges in the realm of wound care is that many people don’t recognize the sheer prevalence and scope of it as well as the burden of wounds on health care systems. There are approximately 6.5 million patients affected by chronic wounds in the United States alone, with the cost for chronic wound care in the US estimated at $50 billion annually – that’s more than 10 times the cost of single-year readmissions in the U.S.
Chronic wounds represent a large and growing threat to public health, and as the population ages, that burden will increase – made worse by rising health care costs and the growing incidences of diabetes and obesity.
Where do you see Acelity in 5 years?
We are investing in our business in ways now that will drive sustainable, long-term growth. We’re putting emphasis on protecting and growing our core business, focusing efforts on driving increased adoption of key focus products, introducing existing products in new markets, and putting additional investment into research and development as well as new product development to provide solutions to customers’ needs. We’re confident that by focusing in these areas, we’re setting ourselves up for success for years to come.
How do you remain competitive in the wound care field?
Through innovation. One recent example of this is the establishment of our new Digital Wound Care Franchise. With products like our iOn PROGRESS Remote Therapy Monitoring system, the first system to deliver continuous at-home monitoring for patients prescribed NPWT in the home, we have been at the forefront of digital technology and wound care. We’re seeing impressive data that demonstrates how our technology and care network can impact patient compliance to therapy. With the new franchise, we have a dedicated team focused on driving digital innovation and leveraging all the benefits that technology and data capture can provide to patients, clinicians, and payers.
What would you like to be doing if you weren’t working in the position you are in now?
Running another company in health care. In my humble opinion, it’s the best place to spend a career!
What book/reading material is sitting on your nightstand/coffee table?
Phil Knight’s autobiography, Shoe Dog.
Name a book that you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten to yet.
Dreamland by Sam Quinones, on the opioid crisis.
If you weren’t participating in this interview right now, what would you be doing?
Probably on an airplane or the exercise bike!
What was the biggest hurdle you had to jump in order to get to where you are today?
Balancing one’s personal and professional life is always a challenge. I’m blessed with a great family and wonderful friends…which has made the journey so gratifying and fun!