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Don Davis: A Life Science Consultant’s Perspective on Healthcare

in this episode we hear a life science consultant’s perspective on healthcare from Don Davis. Based in Colorado, Don joined Rob Oliver on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast. A member of Generation X, he has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare field.

Here are 3 things that stood out as Don Davis gave a life science consultant’s perspective on healthcare:

· Quality healthcare means meeting diagnostic outcomes and delivery outcomes that benefit the patient
· An essential element of quality healthcare is listening to exactly what the patient is saying
· Technology is wonderful and creates new opportunities but nothing can replace the human element of treatment

You can learn more about Don Davis and his company through the links below:


Here is the transcript of Don Davis: A Life Science Consultant’s Perspective on Healthcare:

Rob Oliver: Thank you. And I appreciate you joining me today to hear another unique perspective on health care. Today’s perspective comes from Don Davis. He is based in Colorado. He is a life Sciences consultant with an expertise in drugs, diagnostics devices and technologies. He is a member of Generation X. Don welcome to the podcast.

Don Davis: Thanks so much for having me, Rob.

Rob Oliver: Absolutely. So tell me about yourself and your role in health care.

Don Davis: Sure. So for the past 30 years, I’ve worked for a variety of health care companies, health care device manufacturers, as well as drug companies. Most of my background and most of the work that I do for these companies is all centered around operational excellence, lean Six Sigma, setting up project management offices and things of that sort.

Rob Oliver: Okay. So you’re dealing with the back end of things, not with the patient side of things. Is that accurate? That is accurate?

Don Davis: Yes. It’s interesting because I think we all in our career journeys want to have an impact in different ways and where I more or less started, my journey is I certainly wanted to have a broader impact in health care itself, not somebody who’s a physician. So how I can contribute is in all of the supporting activities that happen to deliver a product, a drug test and those sort of things to patients.

Rob Oliver: Okay. So what are the kind of elements that you’re helping to develop through that process that are going to have an impact? Is it looking more at the product side of things or at the person side of things when you’re helping to do that development of leadership and your Lean Six Sigma and all of those elements, which direction is headed?

Don Davis: Yeah. So oftentimes the companies that I’m working for are definitely ones that are developing and delivering other drugs or devices or technology for patients to eventually be treated with. But I’m certainly not working directly with patients on a day to day basis.

Rob Oliver: Let me rephrase the question then, as you’re working with the individuals you’re working with, the companies is your goal and what companies bring you in for? Is it to improve the quality of the product, or is it to improve their relationship with the patient or the client?

Don Davis: So it oftentimes could be either right. So it could be maybe they’re having a quality issue with a product itself that’s touching the patients. Right. So maybe there’s something that keeps happening with regards to the individual device that they’re using on patients, and they want somebody to help them better analyze the key or root cause around the issue that they’re seeing. It also could be something more broadly. Maybe they’re trying to overall implement technologies that eventually will touch patients at the end of the day. But most of the process work that I’m doing is more centered on delivering things for the product itself and kind of the output of the product.

Rob Oliver: Got it. Thank you. I appreciate the explanation on that. What does quality health care mean to you?

Don Davis: I find this an interesting question, and I’ll start a little bit with my history and then kind of come back to the question. So from my perspective, at the age of about five years old, my mother had ovarian cancer. The way my father tells the story is that she was taken in a room with her general practitioner. My father was there and he told my mother, just essentially, you have cancer and you’re going to die. So that was the way that the message was translated to her. Wow. After that happened, though, my father took on this sort of quest to try and figure out what therapies were out there. How could he possibly save his wife? So that was kind of his journey. And through this, I grew up in hospital rooms. So there were quite a few hospital rooms that I visited my mother in until she passed. And then even since then, my father had contracted breast cancer himself. So he’s part of the 1% that way. And then my sister also had breast cancer as well. My mother did pass a couple of years after being diagnosed. So whenever I was ten, she passed away. But it’s one of the things that’s led me to health care and wanting to be in this field in the first place. And so whenever I think of quality health care and what it is to me, it’s meeting diagnostic outcomes and delivery outcomes that actually benefit at the end of the day, the patient, I mean, I of course, would love to see providers and things like that better use technologies and things to diagnose patients? Sure. But at the end of the day, to me, the most important thing is have we really made an impact in the delivery for patients in whatever it is that we’re treating them for, so it could be diagnosing rare disease or it could be even cancer treatments and providing therapies there just having an impact or having even my way of delivering an impact is essentially what I’m looking for in delivering quality health care.

Rob Oliver: That is an incredibly powerful and moving story. And I appreciate your openness in sharing what happened in your family. Thank you for doing that. So much of a reminder that breast cancer is not just a women only disease. There is an element of that. Montel Williams, the talk show host, is famous for having had breast cancer and is a very powerful advocate there. Can you give me an example of quality health care?

Don Davis: Yes. So I’m going to take a full world view in this one. I’m going to use a personal story here. So I was traveling in India, had a global role. I had several people that were traveling with me in the airplane on the way to India. This was several years ago. I caught probably the worst cold that I’ve ever had after I was in my hotel room, the company that I work for. We oftentimes would travel with a medical kit, just a very basic medical kit that had things that at least you could take your temperature. And you had some common medicines and things like that in there in the medical kit. And kind of what I was looking at, my temperature. It just kept climbing. So I went to 100 and 102. At that point, I reached out that we had a global service that would help us with medical outreach. And in that medical outreach person said, Call us back whenever your temperature crosses 103. So at 103, she said, okay, so what we’re doing is we have booked you in one of the private hospitals in Delhi, India. There will be a cab that will pick you up at the lobby of your hotel. They’ll take you there and they’ll bring you back. And so I was transported to this hospital, not knowing what I was getting myself into at all. I just knew I needed medical care. And so I got there. And essentially, they greeted me. Of course, I’m the only person that looks like me in India in this particular hospital. And I walked in there and they greeted me at the door, sort of ushered me in. There were four nurses, two doctors. They did a chest X ray, gave me a whole series of antibiotics. That treatment from a place that was clearly not home for me was some of the best health care I’ve ever had. Because they really listened to me. They made sure that I understood exactly what was going on at every step of the way. They made sure that I felt the personal touch overall. And I mean, to top it off, the Er trip there cost me eight point $26. So in the US, this is unheard of right. And I understand why our costs are different than costs in other countries, for sure. But whenever I saw the level of care that I got and the level of fear that I had going into this, I was really shocked. Now, fast forward to my mother. So my mother is 90 years old. We just took her to the Er a couple of weeks ago. What she kept saying was back pain. I’m having back pain. And I would say the first couple of trips to the Er, it was over a couple of different day span. I don’t think people really paid attention to what she was saying. And finally, between that second and third trip, it transformed because the caregiver that was there really took a minute to listen thoroughly and understand that what she was saying back was back pain might not actually be back pain. So let’s do a lot more tests and let’s try and see if we can figure this thing out to me, having that ability to listen, be empathetic, but also be very responsive. I think with regards to whatever it is that the patient is going through and understanding that whatever level of sickness or pain that they have, they’re not going to be able to well translate that to you.

Rob Oliver: Okay. So I just want to highlight there were, I think, four things that you mentioned in there four and a half. So first one being to listen. The second being to make sure that the patient understands what’s going on. The third was that personal touch, and the fourth was being responsive to what the patient is providing you with feedback. And the half one was getting a cheap cab ride to and from the hospital. But that one is one that we will let go based on wherever it is that you happen to be. What do you wish that people understood about your role in health care?

Don Davis: Yeah. So it’s interesting. So I hold client confidentiality extremely high in the business that I’m in. I feel like I work with some of the most brilliant minds in this field in general. And so I oftentimes don’t talk about the work that I do and whether it’s vaccines or cancer treatments. It’s interesting, because oftentimes we’ll be at dinner with somebody and I’ll be trying to explain something that I do know, even though I might be a processoriented guy, I do know an awful lot about the science that the people use either to develop tests, diagnostics that are run on human beings to try and figure out what’s going on with them, or even the science that’s used in terms of developing the latest and greatest treatments for patients. And so my wife oftentimes will tell somebody, hey, I know he won’t talk about his clients, but you should know that he does know what he’s talking about. And I could say that he’s got two or three people in his resume that he’s worked with. That really do know what they’re doing. So you should take his word at heart.

Rob Oliver: Nice. That feeling of having someone respect you and appreciate the expertise that you bring is definitely valuable. What excites you about the future of health care?

Don Davis: Wow. I think anybody that looks at what we just went through with COVID and what we rapidly developed in terms of a vaccine, whether or not if you’re taking the vaccine or not, I’m not going to get into sort of the political backing around taking a vaccine or not. But what I would tell anybody is the science that gave us the ability to react to Covin was science that was used in SARS, myrrhs Ebola, and those facts came from scientists that work in this sort of field all of the time and deal with these infectious diseases. So I think the fact that we’re here that they could rapidly develop something that’s amazing. That’s part one, part two, for me, is in terms of diagnostics and being able to match a diagnostic to what a patient needs. Those sort of things are happening right now. And so cancer therapies are being developed based on a diagnostic that was more or less developed for the patient and the type of cancer that they have, so that they could tell exactly which drug to apply to the cancer that a particular patient has, which is an absolutely amazing thing. And eventually this idea of being able to edit DNA and things like that, those are all exciting things that I think are on the next wave that are coming. And so this point in time for me is extremely exciting. Just watching what’s happening with the science.

Rob Oliver: Technology is absolutely amazing and then offers a whole variety of treatments, some of which were kind of like Star Trekish. And at the same time, seeing them happen today makes it pretty amazing. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?

Don Davis: I really think it goes back to this idea of really listening to your patient. To me, technology is great. I know that a lot of doctors with electronic medical records, right? I mean, you go to the doctor’s office, and from the moment that you go to the scale until the moment that you’re sitting on the table, they’re typing away on their computers, oftentimes keeping track of what’s going on in your electronic medical record. And I know that they have to do that. But the most important thing is not that electronic medical record. It’s what’s going on with the patient being able to listen and really at heart not go through a checklist. It’s not about sort of having the checklist of things to do. It’s more about how do you listen to what’s actually happening and use your brain to me? That’s the reason why doctors go to school so long is because they want to embed all these things in their head. And I get that the computers are great, but at the same time, I like the human side of patient treatment, and that’s what I look for whenever I go to the doctor.

Rob Oliver: A very well stated thought and something that I think makes a lot of sense, and it’s not difficult to do. So listen, Don Davis, thank you so much for being with me today. I appreciate your openness, I appreciate you sharing, and I appreciate your perspective on health care.

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Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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