Researchers and product developers spend billions of dollars looking for solutions to chronic pain, diseases and diagnosis methods. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the medical innovation in the industry is a result of ideas imagined by medical professionals. Doctors and nurses who come into daily contact with patients are often the ones who best understand what concerns the patients and are motivated to find solutions.

Almost 20 percent of approximately 26,000 medical-device patents filed in the United States from 1990 to 1996 were filed by physicians. Pathologist Stephen C. Wardlaw and endocrinologist Robert A. Levine invented a simple device for performing complete blood counts. Urologist Dr. Errol Singh invented a device which improved the process of catheterization for men.

Nurses are concerned primarily with improving patient care and mitigating pain. As a result, they too have taken part in coming up with ways to enhance healthcare. In 2003, two registered nurses, Terri Barton-Salinas and Gail Barton-Hay, developed ColorSafe IV lines. An intravenous therapy product line was invented in 1990 by the mother-daughter duo Betty M. Rozier, an entrepreneur, and Lisa M. Vallino, a pediatric emergency nurse.

Nurses and physicians often have innovative ideas but don’t have the knowledge, skill or free time in which to develop the product and bring the ideas to life. Some medical device companies have realized the wealth of ideas in the medical profession and have defined new ways to partner with healthcare professionals in order to innovate through collaboration. These companies consult with physicians and nurses to find out how they wish they could solve certain problems. They test the proposed solutions and consult with other caregivers, patients and stakeholders. If the product is deemed to be effective and marketable, the company develops it and sells it to a medical products manufacturer. Because this process originates in a reaction to a day-to-day medical care challenge, the resulting product is patient-centered.

When the medical device industry views the patients as customers and looks for solutions which will ease their pain, add to their comfort and cure what ails them, they naturally turn to medical professionals. Nurses and doctors are on the front lines of healthcare, interacting with patients on a regular basis, and they are the ones using various devices in hospitals and clinics. Their ideas and informed opinions can contribute greatly to the medical device industry.

Patrick Sirois
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At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.