Speed-to-Exit: Why is it so important?

Rather than speed-to-market, “speed-to-exit” is the goal for many medical device inventors and the capital firms that back them. Commercializing a medical device requires a considerable time and resource commitment, as well as an above-average capacity to be tenacious. An easier route is to develop the technology to the point that it can be sold [...]

Needle Free Medical Device

We all know that one person, the one who gets squeamish around needles and blood. They see the needle or the blood being drawn, and their face goes pale while their eyes get huge. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t like needles going inside me anymore than the next person. My arm veins actually [...]

Heart Disease and Hugs

Many people in the United States either suffer from heart failure or have a family member die from it. Did you know that, according to the Center for Disease Control, that one in every four deaths is due to heart disease and that it is also the leading cause of death in both men and [...]

Regenerative Bandages and Diabetic Ulcers

Did you know that the leading cause of lower body amputations is from infected ulcers caused by diabetes? Foot ulcers triggered by diabetes contribute to increased medical costs, hours of pain, and a lower quality of life for the patient. Now, biomedical engineers working at Northwestern University have developed a product to help address this [...]

Virtual Reality and Spinal Cord Injuries

Imagine being a paraplegic patient for years, then being able to learn to regain some control and feeling in your legs without undergoing invasive surgery. Well a group of eight people with the help of the Walk Again Project were recently able to achieve this! Since 2013, they have been conducting a study in Brazil [...]

Is energy-harvesting technology for wearables hard-boiled or hype?

As I wrote in May, the biggest constraint in any kind of medical device design today is battery technology, which has not kept pace with the progressive aspects of medical devices. But energy-harvesting technologies for use in wearable designs show promise, in spite of four key engineering challenges: 1) the power they generate; 2) how [...]

Creativity in Med Design: Let Your Problem Incubate

When you exercise your muscles, you don’t see immediate gains in strength. It’s only after you’ve rested that the strength gains occur. Neuronal connections seem to act similarly. When you’re thinking hard about a problem, it’s rare that you’ll have a eureka moment. The insight usually comes only after you’ve let the problem ruminate in [...]

Medical Product Development and Randomness

Why do most people find it hard to be creative? One reason is that we’ve spent our lives learning how to be logical and analytical. To think creatively, you have to stop thinking logically. The emphasis on logic and analysis works well for helping us navigate most of the problems of our day-to-day world. But [...]

Creativity for Medical Product Design

This past week we conducted our workshop, “Break on Through to Creativity”, at MDM Chicago 2013. Workshop participants learned that, in medical product design, problem finding was as important as problem solving. They learned about the three barriers to creativity: perception, rules and logic. And they learned a number of techniques they can use to [...]

A Taste of Creativity

The workshop on creativity that we will be conducting at MD&M Chicago is coming up in less than two weeks. Here’s a preview: Are you a problem solver or a problem finder? Why does it make a difference in your creative approach? Why do most people find it hard to be creative? Three reasons. Think you’re [...]

Creativity in Medical Device Design

Ever wish you could be more creative in developing solutions for your medical device design problems? I and Forma’s CEO, David Chapin, will be conducting a workshop on creativity at this year’s MD&M conference in Chicago on September 10th and 11th. Here’s a synopsis: Break on Through to Creativity The goal of our Creativity Workshop is [...]

Medical Product Development and Users’ Hidden Needs

Medical product development efforts are often undertaken with the objective of introducing a new technology or implementing improvements to an existing one. Companies spend a lot of time and resources on the functionality, aesthetics and ergonomics of their solution, confident that their product will be a winner. And yet, most new products fail in the [...]

Will Medical Device Design and Development be Led by Hospitals?

A number of hospital systems are establishing centers to help launch med-tech startups. The Cleveland Clinic is a pioneer in this area, with their Innovations Center. St Joseph Health has just launched the Innovation Institute, the heart of which is the Innovation Lab, which will incubate inventions that have come from the health system’s staff. [...]

Energy Parasites

Oregon State University reports that they have developed a technology that allows them to integrate multiple sensors onto a single microchip. The sensors replace what are currently large components in devices such as body-worn pedometers and fitness trackers. Rather than large, expensive, power-hungry devices, the OSU technology could accomplish the same sensing function in a postage [...]

Medical Device Development and Nanotechnology

Medical device development using nanotechnology systems and techniques is just getting started. North Carolina State University will lead a National Science Foundation Nanosystems Engineering Research Center that will investigate and do basic research on self-powered health monitoring. The program is called ASSIST, for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies. Funded by an NSF grant [...]

Engaging the Innovation Ecosystem

According to Dr. David B. Nash, Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health, the healthcare economy is changing from one that encourages service volume to one that encourages better health outcomes. His mantra for the future is, “no outcome, no income”. This was the gist of Dr. Nash’s talk at the 2012 CONVERGE Summit [...]

Medtech 2020

What will be driving healthcare innovation in the coming years? According to Kevin Schimelfenig, Dr. Ken Riff, Kem Hawkins and Richard Russo, panelists at the 2012 CONVERGE Summit for Healthcare Innovation, this: Innovation is needed in the process of care delivery. There are opportunities for big improvements in access, cost and quality. Markets outside the [...]

Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs!

In the days when the sea was the best means of traveling long distances, the economic success of a country was heavily dependent on the geographical reach of their maritime trade and of their navy. Scurvy was one of the biggest killers aboard ship and limited the time a sailor could remain at sea. Finding [...]

CONVERGE: Healthcare Innovation, part 2

The future of medical device design lies in harnessing the massive amounts of health data that will be generated in the coming years. Other take-aways from the 2012 CONVERGE Summitfor Healthcare Innovation: Business models will need to change. Healthcare players are moving to expand their reach within the continuum of care. Improving patient outcomes: all [...]

CONVERGE: Healthcare Innovation

If you want to know where those at the forefront of the rapidly changing healthcare landscape see both disruption and opportunity, check back here. I am just returned from the CONVERGE Summit for Healthcare Innovation presented in Philadelphia by MedCity News. The agenda was jam-packed with excellent speakers and panel discussions about exciting developments and trends [...]

Sensors and Significance

The use of body-worn sensors to monitor physiology and provide usable feedback to individuals is still very new. Most of the devices we’ve seen so far track such things as heart rate, body temperature, respiration rate and calories burned and are used mostly as athletic training aids and weight-loss aids. Now, Orpyx is working to release [...]

Using Video for Monitoring and Sensing

I have written before about how computers will be used to enhance imaging data to give us a much clearer view of human physiology. The newest example of this comes from MIT, where researchers have been able to enhance video to reveal subtle movement and color changes that heretofore could not be visibly detected. See [...]

A Problem’s Soul

Medical device design, to be successful, must start with a crystal clear understanding of the true problem the device will be designed to solve. This quote, from Sonny Vu, in an article at MIT Technology Review,  superbly illustrates the point: “If you have diabetes, what’s your main problem? It’s that you don’t want to have [...]

Fighting for Creativity

Most people will say that they value creativity. And they really believe that they do. But new research out of The University of Pennsylvania, UNC-Chapel Hill and Cornell shows that, in fact, we harbor a bias against creative solutions in favor of those we percieve as safer and more practical. The reason is because most [...]

Accidents Will Happen

Embrace them. Often times in creative endeavors, things go wrong. You play an unintended note. You draw an off-perspective line. But the accident gives you a new idea, or a different way of looking at the problem. Accidents can get you to places you never would have gotten to deliberately. They can often lead to [...]

Creativity Suggestions

I was going back through some of my old papers and came across a piece from Newsweek written by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Their article investigated what various researchers have found about creativity. It’s worth sharing the highlights: Brainstroming is not the best way for teams to come up with creative ideas. The same [...]

The Blank Page

To a writer, the most terrifying thing is a blank page. What to say? Where to begin? What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if my creativity is gone? Failure. The blank page can be paralyzing. One technique that writers use to get past their fear is to simply engage in the [...]

Innovation and Control

Corporations and managers love systems. They like things to be done the same way each time, in a step-by-step manner. Nothing stifles creativity quicker. There is no system for being creative. Hoping to develop medical device innovation by instituting a system is a fool’s errand. Leave the systems to the six-sigma folks. Your job is [...]

A Question of Balance

A body at rest stays at rest. A body in motion stays in motion. If only things were that simple. What we observe in the physical world is that everything is in a constant state of oscillation. You’re happy, you’re sad. You’re angry, you’re glad. The heart beats. Developing medical device innovation requires a similar movement [...]

Beware the Ego

Have you ever been in a meeting where creativity gets shut down because of something that happens in the group dynamic? Of course you have. Failing to effectively manage what happens in medical product development team group interactions is one of the biggest reasons why companies fail to innovate. Few companies are even aware of [...]

You Can’t Lead Innovation

Last week I told you that you can’t innovate because your leaders are afraid. But it’s not all their fault. There’s another reason you can’t innovate, and its source is at the top of the organization. That’s right, I’m talking to you, Mr. CEO. You want your managers to foster innovation, but you yourself are [...]

You Can’t Innovate

You can't innovate because your leaders are afraid. They’re afraid of doing things differently. They’re afraid of the consequences of failure. So they play it safe. They don’t risk much. They talk about innovation, but it’s only lip service. You know how to generate remarkable new ideas. You know how to create. But when your [...]

Negative Innovation

Medical Devices Today recently cited an article from In-Vivo that talks about “negative innovation”. Basically, the idea is that advances in clinical value need to take a back seat to cost savings. In other words, not doing more with less, but doing the same with less. What this says to us is that cost reduction is [...]

Making the Right Decision

You’ve done a lot of research. You’ve developed some promising concepts. You’ve gathered the team together and now it’s time to evaluate and make some decisions. Amid the egos and agendas and politics, how do you make sure you’re choosing the ideas to move forward that will ultimately have the best chance of becoming a [...]

Questioning Constraints

Far too often we’re presented with medical device design projects that arrive with constraints already firmly established. “We must use our existing manufacturing process”. “Our competitor has that feature, so we have to include it in our design”. “The filling vendors don’t like to do it that way”. If you’re really serious about medical device innovation, you [...]

True Innovation

Starts with courage. Courage to challenge the status quo. Courage to question constraints. Courage to defy the system. Courage to fight the me-too mentality. Courage to think big.

Where Innovation Goes to Die

Want to kill an idea? Put it before a committee. New ideas need a champion -- Someone who is vested in a successful outcome. Don’t expect casual players to push to the edges. It takes strength and decisiveness to drive a medical device design project beyond the ok and into the great. This is not [...]

Can We All Just Get Along?

It’s always a good idea to use multidisciplinary teams in a product development project. In medical device design, the interaction between the design and engineering functions requires an even closer collaboration than usual. This is because design changes are often immediate and far-reaching. That is, an engineering change can have a significant impact on industrial [...]

Good Design Wins Only Half the Battle

The other half is won by a convincing argument. We’ve all been through the experience of having a client insist on changes to a design that will make it, let’s say, less than optimal. I think most medical device designers don’t give enough thought to the “whys” of their designs. They know what works intuitively. [...]