Marketing & Strategy

From ‘feature innovation’ to ‘value innovation’ in MedTech

Health Industry Hub | December 4, 2019 |

Technological innovation is pervasive in our world and in all aspects of healthcare, but it could be argued that innovation in MedTech doesn’t serve its purpose if it doesn’t reach the patients it is designed to help.

Successful innovation in MedTech means to innovate in a way that is commercially viable and brings economic value to the healthcare system, so that widespread adoption can be achieved.

To achieve this, companies must shift their product development efforts from a features mindset to a solutions mindset, focussing their product development efforts on solving problems instead of feature innovation. In this way new features are developed based on key stakeholder needs and then marketing comes up with a value proposition (VP) based on the mix of features and their benefits.

Traditionally, medical device companies have identified pain points for their end users and designed new products or added new features to existing products to solve these problems. “But decision making power has shifted away from end users and for new products to gain market access, let alone meaningful market share, they must demonstrate value to the payer. Value is typically derived through a cost saving or an efficiency gain that provides an economic benefit.” said Kirsty Amland, Principal, Meta Medtech Consulting.

It takes an average of 4-10 years and costs US$30-150 million to commercialise a new MedTech product in Australia(1). After such a significant investment in time and resources, companies need to be confident that a new product introduction will meet expected returns on investment when it goes to market.

There are many factors that will influence launch success, but ensuring that the product has a compelling value proposition that will drive payer behaviour is crucial.

To innovate for value, have a solutions mindset

Albert Einstein said “If I only had one hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem, and the remaining 5 solving it.”

The first step in developing a solutions focus is to understand the problem you are trying to solve. An effective way to approach this is focusing on three key questions and their corresponding tasks.

Stakeholder Mapping – whose problem are you solving?

Companies need to closely examine the patient’s journey to treatment and who is making decisions about that treatment along the way. This extends beyond referral pathways to stakeholders like health funds, government, hospitals and advocacy groups. By doing this, you can then understand whose problems you need to solve to bring a product or service to market that generates value for that stakeholder group.

Customer Research – what is the problem?  

Once the stakeholder environment is understood, the next task is to understand what is important to stakeholders and the problems they face. Stakeholder interviews should be structured to shed light on the jobs that stakeholders need done, the pain points they encounter and the gains to be made by solving these problems.  The trick here is to make sure that questions are framed without any per-conceived solution bias and to resist the temptation to jump to solution mode too soon.

Value Proposition Design – what is the solution?

There are many possible solutions to any given problem or unmet need, but a true value based solution needs to solve a significant pain point in a way that delivers maximum gains to the stakeholders that will have the most influence over the product’s adoption.

The definition of value in your VP could very well be a better clinical outcome, however this needs to be readily translated into an economic benefit for the payer e.g. a cost saving delivered by a shorter length of hospital stay, faster procedure time or decreased complication rates, and must be supported by clinical evidence.

“Value innovation can be seen in many of the new digital solutions coming to market, such as wearables or implants that improve a patient’s ability to manage their disease at home, reducing visits to the doctor and allowing the patient to get on with everyday life. The value for the payer is better patient compliance, fewer episodes of acute care and the resultant cost savings.” Ms Amland said.

Product development that starts with understanding the problem and solving that problem in a way that generates value for the user and payer will deliver products that find a ready market and successfully deliver on commercial objectives.

Reference: 1. MTPConnect Sector Competitiveness Plan 2019

Meta Medtech Consulting: Medtech Strategy, Commercialisation & Business Development.

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