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How to Fill the Medtech Innovation Pipeline


Big device seems stuck in an increasingly irrelevant 'build it and they will come,' 'we know best' business model. Meanwhile, the innovation pipeline is drying up.

Pipeline of ideas

Like all things Sick Care, Medtech is in transition, searching for new ways to do business and make profits. Confronted with a desiccating innovation pipeline and investor interest, CEOs are searching for answers and shareholders are keeping score.

I've had several experiences working with Big Device and have found them to be distant, bordering on arrogant. If Medtech is to re-invent themselves and how they collaborate with other innovators, they need to:

1. Embrace a more open innovation model, particularly when it comes to engaging non-academic, community-based innovation networks.

2. Stop hiding behind patents.

3. Eliminate needless and cumbersome bureaucracy that seems to be driven more by lawyers than visionaries.

4. Engage medical specialty societies, hosting innovation fairs at national meetings.

5. Providing corporate venture support for higher-risk seed stage ideas.

6. Partnering with accelerators, scalerators and euthanators to kill or advance ideas at least cost as possible.

7. Partner with translational research centers and community research networks to do human subject trials faster, cheaper and smarter.

8. Make better use of big data to monitor the total benefits of care versus the costs.

9. Retrain the sales force to be problem seekers and value providers collaborating with clinical end users to demonstrate value in an increasingly commoditized device world.

10. Rethink the relationships with research university technology transfer offices.

Big device seems stuck in an increasingly irrelevant "build it and they will come," "we know best" business model. With the innovation pipeline drying up, soon the only thing they will be banking on will be dust, and that's not good for patients.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice