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Bringing a medical device to market: the power of collaboration

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Technology adoption relies on the commitment, expertise and determination of clinicians, who carry the torch of innovation through the system, driven by the passion to improve patient outcomes. Here Andrew Thelwell, chief commercial officer of Sky Medical Technology tells Health Tech World about the challenge of bringing new devices to the market.

The 1991 book, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore , has been a go-to source for technology entrepreneurs looking to take a product to mass market. Moore argues technology products do not follow a gentle path from early adopters to the majority but must cross a chasm between the two. The chasm is challenging to cross, particularly in bringing a medical device to market.

ONE PRODUCT, MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS

Innovation in medical technology (MedTech) is critical to the future of healthcare. As populations age, breakthrough MedTech will need to bridge the gap between affordable healthcare systems and high levels of care. Particularly important are ‘platform’ innovations: those technologies solving more than one medical issue.

One example of this is OnPulse is one which is used to stimulate the common peroneal nerve. It activates the calf and foot muscle pumps to increase blood flow in the lower leg equal to 60 per cent of walking without raising someone’s blood pressure.

Embedding this platform technology into the geko device, offers positive patient outcomes for multiple medical conditions.

PARTNERS IN INNOVATION

The support of early adopters was the most critical part of our journey to mass commercialisation. Early adopters in the medical industry are visionary, believing patient outcomes can be improved by challenging the status quo.

One such individual was Dr Indira Natarajan at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.

Early data convinced Dr Natarajan to explore what the geko device could do for blood clot prevention. Through his access to a large number of stroke patients, some needing an alternative to intermittent pneumatic compression devices (IPC) – a cumbersome, full or half leg plastic sleeve that inflates and deflates to move blood through veins – he was able to deploy the geko device for patients unable to tolerate or be prescribed IPC therapy.

An initial one-month clinical audit, extended to three months, then a year, generating a 2,000 patient data set, that reported zero blood clots in patients prescribed geko – a positive impact in hard numbers.

CHASM BECOMES A CANYON

The chasm between early adopters and the early majority in MedTech often seems more like a canyon; medical innovation requires a high level of evidence to ensure technology that gets adopted has been through rigorous testing. Technology adoption relies on the commitment, expertise and determination of clinicians, who carry the torch of innovation through the system, driven by the passion to improve patient outcomes.

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