Larry Arshoff is president and founder of Diagnosis, Solutions & Results Inc. (DS&R). He has over 30 years of experience in building and growing medical device and pharma businesses. Larry has over two decades executive and management experience including business unit leadership, business development, marketing, and sales positions at major multinational medical device and pharmaceutical corporations.
Larry’s past senior executive roles include positions at Alcon Canada, Bausch + Lomb Canada, and Novopharm Limited (now Teva Pharmaceuticals). Larry is a former board member of MEDEC and currently the Co-Chair (2013-2018) of the MEDEC Procurement Committee and the MEDEC chair of the In Vitro Diagnostics, Wound Care and Vision Care Committees. He holds Master of Science in Molecular Biology from McMaster University. He can be reached at: [email protected]
There are many challenges associated with bringing a new medical device technology and/or a pharmaceutical into a healthcare institution. As the innovation in healthcare becomes more disruptive, its introduction, evaluation, and adoption become more complicated. Several initiatives are being considered or initiated by provincial governments to help accelerate the adoption of innovative medical devices and pharmaceuticals. There is also a growing national focus on supporting and adopting medtech innovation in Canada.
While initiatives to accelerate the adoption of innovation in healthcare lead to better patient outcomes and are important to healthcare sustainability, the implementation of innovation remains a time-consuming process. A key challenge facing companies launching an innovative new product is how to accelerate its adoption in the marketplace (sales) until government initiatives become operationalized.
Recognizing the need to develop an effective interim ‘process’ to help address a company’s need to grow sales of its innovative products, we decided to explore potential solutions with executives involved in the procurement and adoption of medical innovations. We found a strong convergence toward a five-step process that helps introduce innovations that can be used until a new procurement and adoption system is in place. The steps are summarized in the following table and described below:
1. Start the introduction process early
Introducing, procuring, and adopting a medical device or pharmaceutical innovation takes time. While preparing for the launch of a new product, many businesses usually develop and initiate prelaunch plans to create awareness of the product and its benefits. The information about the new technology should be shared as early as possible so customer stakeholders can absorb new information, assess where it might fit in their practice, and lay the groundwork for trials, initial evaluations, and potential acquisition. While starting early is important to the hospital and procurement stakeholders, companies must be mindful of infringing Health Canada regulations.
2. Show the clinical and economic value
Medical device or pharmaceutical adoption is related to a product’s potential to contribute to value based healthcare. The innovation should have a clinical and economic dossier that explains the technology, its benefits, and value. Many of the clinical benefits could be sourced from regulatory submission file as well as data from clinical trials.
The economic data should reflect value and savings related to better patient outcomes. Some of the key metrics a hospital could consider important include: superior patient outcomes, reduced adverse events, shorter length of stay, and fewer readmissions and their impact on budget (and savings). A budget impact calculator may also be helpful to show savings within and across budget silos, to help quantify a value analysis.
3. Align the innovation with provincial and hospital objectives, strategies, issues and plans
Nothing helps drive innovation adoption more than solving customer issues and supporting their plans. Ensure that your innovation, its benefits and value are aligned with provincial and institutional objectives, strategies, challenges, and improvement plans. Strengthen your affiliation by using your customer’s terminology and specifically linking your proposal, value, and solution to help address their objectives, challenges, and metrics.
4. Identify clinical champions
An initial critical step in planning involves identifying who will be the champion(s) for your technology at each hospital site. Our experience has shown that you may often need more than one champion at each site and that the champions should be a mix of physicians and healthcare professionals.
It is also important to select individuals with the appropriate traits to support your innovation. The champion(s) should be passionate about the technology, respected by their peers, and able to work with hospital administration and procurement team to drive the acquisition process (which may be an ad hoc process). The champion(s) will also have to play an integral role in explaining the clinical and economic benefits of the technology (e.g. members of the value analysis team related to value based healthcare).
5. Identify all relevant stakeholders
Although it seems apparent, it is essential to contact all of the obvious and not-obvious stakeholders about the innovation. These stakeholders are not only clinicians, but also may include individuals from finance, administration, and procurement. It is also important to recognize that these stakeholders may have a special role as part of a health value analysis team, and/or are involved with the decision-making process. Neglecting to engage a key stakeholder early in the process can lead to slowing the process (or in a worst-case scenario, stopping it).
Following these five steps can not only help improve your understanding of the decision-making process, but also help accelerate adoption of your innovation in healthcare. Because you are helping to solve their problems and address their plans, this approach should also increase your leverage with the key stakeholders at target hospitals.
Although this approach appears to be intuitive, the steps are complex, and the process is often challenging to complete. Companies planning to introduce innovative products should therefore allocate both time and resources to implement and complete this five-step process.