Guest: Oliver Clarke
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Oliver Clarke is the Communications Manager at Olympus Australia where he is responsible for enhancing the Olympus brand across the medical, life science and industrial divisions throughout Australia and New Zealand. Oliver has been with Olympus for seven years, is passionate about technology and is especially interested in the role innovation plays in delivering improved health outcomes. Having graduated from RMIT University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Radiations, Oliver went on to complete a Graduate Diploma in Information Technology after which time he began working at Olympus Australia as a project manager responsible for delivering integrated operating theatres.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, familiarize yourself with the range of products and services that Olympus Australia has to offer from their Communications Manager Oliver Clarke. The company’s commitment is a package consisting of a superior product range, dedicated sales force, professional marketing team and superior service by our Customer Technical Support team. Their Medical Instrument Division encompasses a broad range of endoscopy and surgical instruments.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to the Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar, my guest today is Oliver Clarke. Oliver’s the communications manager of Olympus Australia. Oliver, welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Oliver Clarke: Thanks Wayne. Thanks for having me on.
W: Now Oliver, Olympus is a brand name that I guess many of us are familiar with, I’ve certainly got some cameras and stuff but in the health field, is Olympus such a big brand?
O: Yes, great question Wayne. We are primarily actually a healthcare company. We do have the digital camera into our business but the major part of our company is dedicated to healthcare, life sciences and industrial. And in the healthcare sector, we’re a key innovator and inventor of a number of medical devices primarily related to optics. And we help surgeons and physicians basically visualize the inside of patients through devices like our flexible endoscopes used in colonoscopies and gastroscopies right thru to our surgical camera heads used for surgery or laparoscopic surgery.
W: Now I guess if you are a surgeon using an endoscope you might not be aware of the brand name on it, certainly it’s not a brand that I’ve heard come up a lot. So is it a common, you know I guess my question really is Olympus a major supplier in this space?
O: Yeah, look we absolutely are. So the surgeons that do general laparoscopic surgery, gyne surgery, urology, ENT physicians and especially in the case of gastroenterologists, Olympus would be classified as a household brand name in that regard. Across Australia and New Zealand, we’ve got a 95% market share in the gastroenterology space and in the surgical ENT space we’re around sort of about 30-35% mark. What I would say is there are absolutely some surgeons that probably don’t know what camera they’re holding in their hand, but on the flip side of that coin is the surgeons who absolutely find that’s critical that they have to have a particular brand name scope in their hand and it’s very important for them to do that. So right across from the surgeon level, for the nurses, the disinfection staff, and nurse unit managers all the way up to the hospital executive, Olympus is certainly a supplier in this industry that is well known.
W: I guess this grows out of the idea of optics is the beginning or the foundation for this.
O: Yeah, that’s right. So Olympus started actually in 1917, so we’re about to celebrate our 100th anniversary which sounds pretty cool.
W: Ohhh that would be a big party.
O: It will, it will. So we’ll have to do some celebration across our branches here in Australia. And we started as a microscopy company and for around about 30 or 40 years, that’s basically what we did. So we did sort of the Upright Microscopes as you would see in your traditional school lab or university research institution. And then in the 1950s there was an R&D engineer who wanted to tackle the issue of the high rate of gastric cancer in the Japanese population. The Japanese … the side story is because of their diet, they do have a higher incidence of gastric cancer than the rest of the population.
O: And so traditionally at a time in the 50’s, if you had gastric cancer and you wanted to get a view of that disease, you would have to go to an open surgery. Now open surgeries come with many complication, it’s much more of a risk from infection perspective, their longer cases and their recovery time is also much greater. So there was an R&D engineer who thought “Well we make these amazing optics for our microscopes, what if we could apply that to some sort of camera that we could insert down the throat to look inside the patient’s stomach?” And thru a number of trial and errors and getting a professional sword swallower on board. Now Albert has sort of fashioned up a I guess a stiff garden hose with an analog film based camera with 6 cells for the images to be captured, and a light bulb that could … flash 6 times, which was actually quite rare back in the days as well. They actually had to go to a light bulb manufacturer and have a specific flash manufactured for this device. And now Albert has successfully tested and proved that they could take the images from the inside of the stomach and from there, Olympus essentially invented and then pioneered the development of the “Gastroscope.” And that’s where really our expertise come from in the medical field and we’ve been able to apply that optic technology from gastroscopy, as I said before through our colon scopes, our ENT scopes, our surgical camera heads, and all the other areas of medical specialties that we work in.
W: Now Oliver, what’s the message that you’d like clinicians to take home from our chat today? What’s the take home message for them?
O: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I guess I would say to them and look if they haven’t had experience with the Olympus system and experience the outstanding in its quality that they’re able to get with the Olympus cameras, I would recommend that they try and do so. Certainly if their gastroenterologist through their training, they would definitely had an Olympus endoscope in their heads from point in time. But if they’re a surgeon be it a orthopedic surgeon, or a general surgeon doing laparoscopic work or gynecologist, they may not have had an Olympus system in their hands. We now boast systems that were able to display outstanding image quality. We have also introduced last year the “world’s first fully flexible 3D laparoscopic camera” for laparoscopic surgery. And the reason why I would encourage them to seek out this technology is the fact that it allows them to save time and perform their procedures far more accurately. So if you can imagine if you’re doing laparoscopic surgery on a 2D screen and you’re having to do processes like suture up tissue inside or just grabbing and cutting tissue as well as you’re doing the surgery, with that lack of depth perception of the 2D monitor it can actually be quite difficult to start with and there’s quite a stable learning curve. And I mean once you understand that the lack of depth perception the guys who have been doing it for years could do it pretty well, but we have actually run some studies that have shown that the time saving you have using a 3D system which gives you that depth perception, allows you to make those sutures that much faster and allows you to accurately grab that tissue that you’re after every single time. So that’s really probably the take away from an equipment perspective but more also from an overall corporate perspective, I encourage them to find out more of what Olympus can offer them. So sure, we provide the outstanding equipment, the cameras, but what is sort of behind the box that makes that equipment special – it’s the extra services like the onsite support that we give, our education to our doctors and nurses, our accredited training programs that we run in-house. So that’s our headquarters here in Melbourne, our field service capabilities that support the products onsite and also our national service center which is based here in Melbourne as well to be able to service most of the equipment and get it back to the customers as soon as possible.
W: Oliver that 3D endoscope you’re talking about, that’s an extraordinary concept for me to get my head around because I only started playing with 3D in the office and yet to miniaturize that technology and give depth perceptions – that’s pretty extraordinary.
O: Yeah, it is amazing. I’ll certainly pay my respects to the R&D team at Olympus, they’ve always pushed the envelope. And Olympus is a company generally pushes more revenue into R&D than a lot of its competitors, to get … not sure if you want to get too technical – but to get depth perception it all basically depends on the distance of the two camera centers that are apart from each other. So if they’re really close together, you can’t really get depth perception so the trick here is to get a camera center that’s small enough to fit on the tip of the scope for one, which is a pretty amazing achievement.
W: In my opinion anyway. But then to have two on the end of the tip and to position them in such a way that they can be far enough apart whilst remaining on the end of a 10 millimeter laparoscope to give that depth perception is outstanding. And from my perspective as a tech layman, watching these guys repair these devices in the national service center is just amazing. The circuit boards, the wiring and the instruments that are used to put these things together is just incredible. I personally, I don’t think I could ever do it.
W: (chuckles) Well even brain surgery is simple if you’re brain surgeon, you see.
O: That is true.
W: Everything is easy if that’s what you do for a living.
W: Oliver my favorite question, what are the misconceptions in your industry that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?
O: Yeah, that’s a really good question actually. Look, it’s probably around value. What value does Olympus provide to its customer? And look a really good example of that is, as I was saying earlier about our national service center – so if you’re running a endoscopy suite and you’ve got made a 2 or 3 endoscopy rooms, you might have up to 10 endoscopes in your fleet and you need those endoscope to keep the department running day in, day out. Now thru wear and tear, those endoscopes need regular maintenance and servicing, and often they can have parts that are damaged through misuse or mishandling or wear and tear over the lifespan of that piece of equipment. So when that happens, it needs to come to Olympus to be evaluated and repaired and the misconception that we generally have is around the value that our repairs offer and more specifically around the price because customers can see the repair bill and just go “Woah!” They don’t really understand that replacing a certain piece of equipment can be the price but it is. Now to help understand that misconception or sort of breakthrough that misconception, what I would say to our customers is they come and have a look at what we need to do to service that scope or that piece of equipment and have a look at the work that actually goes into making it to the same quality as if it comes out of the factory again. So they might come in, as an example, they might come in with an O-ring that’s ruptured or something like that and that’s a pretty quick job to replace a new O-ring but during that discovery process they might actually find that there are other components that either have failed that the customer hasn’t noticed or are about to fail and probably need replacing at that point in time. So our recommendation always is to repair it to its highest possible standard and that’s where the cost come into it from a customer’s perspective. What I mean for the customer, is that they can be sure that that scope is gonna be the same quality as if it came out of the factory so you’re gonna get an extra one or two or three years lifespan out of that piece of equipment again. Which is often not picked up by customers if that’s not described fully in the course that we provide – so that is probably the biggest.
W: Well let’s hope we’ve helped dispel a little bit of that misconception today. Oliver what’s the best way for listeners to get in touch with you?
O: Well there’s a number of different channels. I can be reached thru our website, we’ve got an online form there that they can submit if they want to get in touch with us. They can call our dedicated 1-300 number which is 1-300-132-992. We’re also on LinkedIn so if they want to find me on LinkedIn, they can search my name. Or if they want to give me an email that’s absolutely fine as well firstname.lastname@example.org
W: Now because I’m always getting in trouble for giving websites and phone numbers without enough warning for people, attention listeners pencils ready. Oliver, can you give us that website again please?
O: So our website is olympusaustralia.com.au.
W: That’s O L Y M P U S AUSTRALIA dot com dot au. And the phone number?
O: It’s 1-300-132-992.
W: So no complaint letters on Facebook please. I’ve been nice in giving you fair warning this time. Oliver, thank you for your time this morning. It’s been a pleasure having you on, it’s fascinating to hear your passion and to hear the passion of the Olympus products come through when you talk about them.
O: Oh thank you Wayne, it’s been my absolute pleasure. And yeah, I look forward to our customers reaching out to us.
W: Now if you’ve just joined us, you’ve just missed me talking with Oliver Clarke, the communications manager with Olympus Australia. But the good news is there’s a transcript on our website at www.hpr.fm. There’s also a sound archive of this interview on YouTube and you can find one on SoundCloud as well. This is Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar