The substantial changes to the healthcare market over the past few years has led to a paradigm shift in a number of industry verticals that serve the medical community, with medical devices perhaps being one of the most affected. While the traditional R&D model for medical device design dictated that value and cost were opposing forces, intense pressure to control healthcare costs is now forcing manufactures to do what at first seems like the impossible: deliver increased value to the buyer at a decreased cost.
While raising the measurable value of a medical device and lowering its cost may appear to be an expectation that cannot be achieved while remaining profitable, there is a substantial “hidden” gap between cost and value when it comes to R&D: effectively identifying value from stakeholders and leveraging this information to design a product that meets value expectations.
In healthcare, the buyer is not the only stakeholder that medical device manufacturers should listen to: physicians, nurses, technicians, and supply chain decision makers all play a major role in determining the value and effectiveness of medical devices. Even more so than a buyer, these key players in the lifecycle of a medical device — from its design to its practical application in an operating room, hospital, or patient’s home — are able to offer unique, patient-influenced expectations as well as insights into what works and what doesn’t. And yet, these voices are frequently left out of the R&D process in developing medical devices, creating a cost/value gap that can be closed through bringing them into the design process.
Medical Device Stakeholder Focus Groups: Bridging the Gap Between Value & Cost
If doctors, nurses, and technicians are left out of the medical device design process or brought in late to share their insights, their impact on defining value and effectiveness for the product is minimal at best. Aside from perhaps giving manufacturers a few ideas on how to craft their marketing and sales campaigns, product feedback at the end of the development process is largely wasted.
In order to maximize the impact of stakeholder feedback, focus groups need to be organized and implemented as early as possible into the design process. By doing this, manufacturers can identify early what product features are needed by their customers, as well as how much they are willing to pay for them. Gaining this insight allows manufacturers to optimize designs, allowing them to increase value while mitigating cost.
Bioskills Labs: Getting the Stakeholders Into the Same Room
Leveraging multi-stakeholder focus groups is a process unto itself that requires a comprehensive approach. From putting together the right team of consultants to giving that team a practical, hands-on review of a product design, ensuring that you have the right people, questions, and format for feedback in place is the only way to gain insight that can increase value and mitigate cost. Utilizing bioskills labs — a kind of “proving ground” that gives stakeholders the opportunity to see designs in action — is crucial to gaining actionable insights from your stakeholder group. Until a product is put through the rigors of use by those who will eventually use it, preliminary feedback is merely academic. Bioskills labs offer medical device companies early insights into potential issues, as well as new perspectives that could significantly improve the efficacy of a medical device.
When designing a medical device to perform successfully in the ever-changing healthcare marketplace, it is essential to capture “the voice of the customer” early in the process. However, this voice is not a singular one; it needs to include the voices of those in the industry to understand the value of features as well as the realities of cost. Through multi-stakeholder focus groups and hands-on bioskills labs, manufacturers can now factor these essential perspectives into their design process from the outset, delivering on cost and value at the same time.