Sudden cardiac arrest is a life-threatening emergency that affects more than 350,000 people of all ages every year and is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. Most often, sudden cardiac arrest occurs at home or in public places. A fast and effective response is vital to the victim’s chance of survival.
“The chance of survival goes down dramatically without intervention – about 10 percent a minute – so you need intervention quickly,” Cardiac Science Corporation (CSC) CEO Dev Kurdikar says. “Unlike a heart attack where the problem is blockage, sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunctioning in the heart, so first responders can do CPR, but they also need a defibrillator to correct the malfunction. Your best bet is having an automated external defibrillator nearby, and Cardiac Science’s products have been in the marketplace for several decades.”
Cardiac ScienceBased in Deerfield, Wis., CSC specializes in the design, manufacturing and marketing of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and related services that facilitate successful deployments. Its mission is to help save lives by providing the public and healthcare professionals with life-saving AEDs. CSC is committed to eliminating the needless delays between sudden cardiac arrest and life-saving defibrillation by ensuring AEDs are accessible and easy to use.
Rebuilding a Brand
Despite filing for bankruptcy in 2015, CSC is stronger today than ever before under the ownership of Los Angeles-based private equity firm Aurora Resurgence. “Today, we are a healthy, growing company with brand-new leadership, a full new product pipeline and an energized employee base – more than 40 percent have joined the company in the past three years,” Kurdikar notes. “It’s a significant turnaround. We are very well capitalized, profitable and growing.”
Kurdikar came to the company in 2016, bringing with him two decades of experience in the healthcare industry. “This is a unique space,” he says. “If someone has sudden cardiac arrest, you can increase their chance of survival with an AED and Cardiac Science’s mission of saving lives in an emergency was appealing to me.”
Recalling his arrival at the company, Kurdikar remarks, “My top priorities were to build a highly talented team while continuing the strong focus on quality. Quality is integrated into our business – so much so that everyone in the company shares the conviction that if one of our kids needs an AED, we want it to be the device we manufacture and sell.”
Cardiac Science’s Powerheart AED family of products lead the industry when it comes to ease of use and maintenance. “We focus on the needs of three constituents: what’s best for the victim of sudden cardiac arrest, what’s best for the rescuer using it and what’s best for the person responsible for maintaining the devices,” Kurdikar explains. “The victim wants it to work, the rescuer wants it to be easy to use and the person responsible for maintenance wants a solution that is easy to manage and maintain.”
The company’s Powerheart AEDs perform a comprehensive series of daily, weekly and monthly self-tests that ensure the AED is always ready to rescue. “Our self-test is really a differentiator. We don’t just test to see if the electrodes are attached, but whether they are actually going to work and are functionally active,” Kurdikar says. “Most competitors only test once a week. Powerheart AEDS test daily and also have a prominent visual indicator: green if it passes its self-tests and red if it fails.”
The company sells AEDs with dual language capability. Dozens of language combinations are available to support the company’s worldwide operations. “If you have a rescuer who speaks English giving CPR between shocks, a second rescuer who speaks Spanish can take over mid-rescue, switching the AED to Spanish right away,” Kurdikar explains.
Powerheart AEDs also have a CPR coaching feedback feature. “A simple, oval puck about three inches long is placed on the victim’s sternum,” Kurdikar says. “During chest compressions, the AED will coach you on the three big things the American Heart Association stresses in their guidelines: the rate of compressions, the depth of compressions and whether you are allowing adequate chest wall recoil.”
Cardiac Science backs their product with an eight-year warranty and has an industry-leading battery that lasts four years. Electrodes are replaced every two years or after use.
Individuals responsible for maintaining AEDs appreciate that Cardiac Science offers Rescue Ready Services, a flexible offering includes reliable service and maintenance performed by trusted technicians who are thoroughly screened and qualified. “We pride ourselves on our professional field staff – they are our employees, not contractors – who provide training, service and maintenance. They also advise on proper placement to maximize utility,” Kurdikar adds. “We have a whole suite of offerings that relieve much of the day-to-day work for the program manager.”
Cardiac Science 2Although Kurdikar could not reveal what new products are in development, he did say the company will launch a handful of new products over each of the next three years. Its growing list of AED customers include today’s Fortune 500 businesses, physician offices, schools, restaurants, malls, airports, sports fields and other public places.
Rebuilt with a strong, stable foundation, Cardiac Science is dedicated to predictable execution and exhibiting a winning spirit, including a hunger to improve every day. Kurdikar says, “We are very results driven. We work hard, focus on results and constantly challenge ourselves. Did we do what we said we would do? Are we achieving our goals? If not, are we closer to where we want to be? How can we do better today than we did yesterday? That’s part of the culture we’re forming. It adds to the already well-established commitment to the mission of saving lives. Whenever we learn of a life saved using a Powerheart AED, our public address system plays a short clip of the song ‘Staying Alive’ throughout our manufacturing plant and office.”
Rebuilding trust among its employees, customers and suppliers has been key to the company’s success. For example, when it emerged from bankruptcy, the company assumed the liabilities owed to its suppliers and made them whole. “That was our first step towards trust because they wanted to be paid for what they had provided in the past and we wanted to make them whole,” Kurdikar says. “As our business has grown, their business grows and we now have pretty strong relationships with both our suppliers and customers.”
Many of Cardiac Science’s loyal customers stayed with the company throughout the turmoil and many new ones have come aboard since its resurgence. “In both cases, what they are seeing is an organization that strives to serve,” Kurdikar says. “We work in a highly regulated industry, so within those confines we try to be as responsive to their needs and wants as possible. Our relationships right now are better than they have been in a long time.”
Looking to the future, Cardiac Science plans to continue growing as there are still not enough AEDs in public areas. “There should be an AED available anywhere people gather,” Kurdikar notes. “Continuing to drive organic growth is a key priority for us.”
There are also many markets where the company has a limited presence; it sees these as major opportunities for growth and is hoping to increase its marketshare moving forward. “Japan, Brazil, Russia, India and China are all AED markets where we have only limited presence,” Kurdikar says. “We have significant growth in the markets we are in and will keep that going while adding on new products and new markets.”
“Patient advocacy groups that are raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and the need for an AEDs,” Kurdikar says. “Manufacturers and distributors are also raising awareness in the market segments they service. Those are the three avenues in which education occurs. In fact, what we are doing is more than educating; we’re bringing awareness of what an AED is and why you should have it, but we are also delivering the product that saves lives. With increasing awareness and access, there’s greater chance that the next victim may survive because there was an AED available. Saving lives is what drives us.”