Physician collaboration has been the cornerstone of our product development for many years. Some of our favorite products, such as BIGopsy®, LithAssist™, and our nitinol stone extractor family, have been the result of close partnerships with physicians. Unfortunately, there are several factors that are changing these relationships. Physicians who have good ideas are finding new ways to market their technologies by using methods like venture capitalism and technology acquisition. Also, the increased scrutiny on physician and industry relationships puts a strain on the collaboration process. Our product lines prove how effective this process can be, when it is done the right way.
Physicians are on the front lines of treating patients every day. They see the clinical problems that come up while in the operating room, and they often have ideas about how to fix these problems. Bringing these ideas to a team of people who can translate the idea into a functioning product (not to mention manufacture, gain regulatory approval, and market the finished product) can be beneficial for the physician, for us, and especially for the patient.
There are a couple of reasons why we feel so strongly about maintaining collaboration as the foundation of our research and development. First, we want to ensure that we’re making the best possible product for patients. Physicians know patients best, so we keep the physician involved throughout the entire process of developing the product. “The entire process” could mean we start with a drawing on the back of a napkin and end with a stock of products on a hospital’s shelf, and we’re ok with that. Throughout that time, we are working closely with the physician to ensure that this product will serve a patient well in the operating room.
Second, we care about creating devices for patient populations who may not normally get attention from venture capitalists or other large companies. These devices typically require much more developed ideas, and much of the research and development process has to be done by the physician with his or her personal time and money. Venture capitalists and other large companies are also usually only interested in a product that has a huge market opportunity, which underserves smaller patient populations who need innovative ideas more than anyone.
We remain open to this collaboration process, and we encourage physicians to approach us with ideas. Together, we can keep up with the growing demand for innovative new products.
Director, Global Product Management – Urology