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Q&A with Dow Wilson, retired president and CEO of Varian Medical Systems

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | October 05, 2022
Rad Oncology
From the October 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


HCB News: How are you spending your time these days, now that you've retired?
DW: Retirement so far is great... I miss the thrill of working on innovative new products that will make a difference clinically and operationally. I don't miss the stress of the constant 90-day cycle that unfortunately characterizes a lot of our business world. I am on a couple boards and I'm volunteering in a number of philanthropic initiatives with my wife Lynne, that we are finding very fulfilling. We are especially enjoying trying to help the significant refugees — Ukrainian, Afghan, Latin American, etc. – find a footing in our country.

HCB News: Any big picture predictions for the future of the healthcare industry?
DW: I have a brother who never weighed more than 160 pounds... ate carefully his whole life... exercised everyday religiously... but has bad cardiac genes (I, unfortunately, have the same genes). He had a massive heart attack at 60. He's on an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) which has basically taken over the pumping of his heart. It's a miraculous device and he wouldn't be here without it so we are very grateful. What he needs, though, is a wireless, tubeless LVAD or a heart transplant! The capacity of potential transplant hearts is way too small. Who's going to develop organ generating tools for hearts, kidneys, etc.? Wow... what an innovation that would be. And it's hard to imagine that we eventually couldn't do it much cheaper than a transplant. Well, that's a bit out of our field of cancer, but something that's personal to me right now.

I remain firmly committed to the belief that healthcare is an innovation game. It's a fair criticism that sometimes we innovate for innovation’s sake without a clear way of paying for the innovation or measuring its clinical impact. More and more though, I think the MedTech world and its customers are doing a much better job of gathering evidence to demonstrate the benefit of innovation. We need to do more of it. We have to find ways to make a better clinical impact at a lower provider and patient cost.

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(1)

David Hurlock

Great interview with a great leader

October 06, 2022 09:42

Congratulations on this interview with Dow Wilson. I had the pleasure of working in Varian during his tenure,
(several levels below Dow, of course). But he knew my name, and never hesitated to engage in conversation every time our paths crossed.

His success in nurturing innovation in cancer care, while growing Varian, is remarkable. I would wish him every success in his retirement, but I don't think anything would stand in his way to success, however he defines it.

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