We have recently been working with a number of our clients to define and scope next generation products. A key element in this task is to identify unmet need in the current generation of medical devices. This is a challenging task for a number of reasons:
- Perceptions of unmet need are tied to the products currently available to clinicians. Often multiple products, brands and generations of product are present in their place of work, making common reference points difficult
- Clinicians using medical devices in their daily work tend not to be able to imaginatively identify unmet needs or areas for improvement, unless these are very obvious, i.e. there is already an identified problem, which is rare
- They tend to focus only on the parameters delivered by current devices, i.e. they don’t identify peripheral unmet needs which could be delivered by future products
- Even when clinicians are prompted with innovative ideas they don’t find it easy to prioritise these outside of their work environment i.e. they need context
Identifying unmet need through utilising workflow analysis, human factors research, clinician diaries and qualitative and quantitative research methodologies drives device innovation. This approach addresses a wide range of clinician types in a variety of medical settings and where relevant, can also include patients.
- Set Up: the objective here is to define the customer touch points of the product category and gather internal perspectives on potential innovation routes. A second component of the project set up is identifying and scoping potential directional routes for device innovation.
- Device Use & Workflow Analysis: the appropriate qualitative methodology is selected for the viewed assessment and analysis. Project outputs usually include a map of unmet need by customer touch-point and an innovation assessment tool that can be used to gage the success of potential innovations.
- Validation: an additional phase of quantitative research can be undertaken to quantify and prioritise unmet need.
May be of interest: Unmet Needs Analysis in Medical Device New Product Development