Creating a Patient Centered Path To Innovation

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  • 04/24/2012
I attended the Value Driven Engineering conference sponsored by The Austen Bioinnovation Institute of Akron ( and ABIA's CEO, Dr. Frank Douglas. The meeting brought together a combination of engineers, entrepreneurs, doctors, patients, government officials to discuss ways to make innovation sustainable by making it patient centered. The shift in perspective brings about a shift in how both value and cost are defined and measured as well as how new medical products are developed. Peter Drucker once observed: “Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.” Value (from the patient perspective) is defined as what benefits end users look for and get from a new technology. This is not a new concept, but it's application in the design and purchase of medical innovations is indeed, innovative and in many ways radical. It means that elegant technology has to enhance experience and solve problems. It means that consumers of products will have to be involved in the design of products in some meaningful manner. And it means that product design must be refined by real time, real world experience. Does it mean that new products have to be cheaper or reduce the cost of treating patients. Sometimes, and likely more often than not. But that shift does not mean giving up quality. Indeed, a Johns Hopkins University engineering students are developing a fetal heart monitor that is ten times cheaper than the state of the art machine used in America and is less invasive and more precise. It's also a product anyone can use. Often they are products that have a higher price but reduces the complexity of care, makes it more convenient and frees people up to work more and be more independent, not less. And they also fill an unmet clinical need. A growth factor in heart stem cells can be injected in minutes to help repair left ventricles and save lives. The biggest hurdle to VDE is, the conferees agreed, was reimbursement requirements, especially those that require CER as another step to adoption. VDE uses and depends upon real work use and reworking of products to improve performance and reduce cost. Companies can complete this virtuous cycle more frequently and with less interference offshore. Which is why innovation is leaving America. The choice is between VDE, a prospective partnership that designs products based on reducing cost and consumer value and CER, an after fact hurdle that patients must scale to access innovation.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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