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4 Mistakes That Will Keep Your Device Out of the Hospital

For your product to successfully pass the value analysis gantlet, you’ll need to avoid these blunders.

For your product to successfully pass the value analysis gantlet, you'll need to avoid these blunders.

Jamie Hartford

The value analysis committee is the gatekeeper that determines which medical devices make it onto a hospital's approved products list. Comprising stakeholders such as administrators, physicians, supply chain professionals, and other stakeholders, the value analysis committee is tasked with evaluating whether products meet the organization's cost and quality criteria, and, ultimately, whether they are worth purchasing or not.

In other words, pleasing value analysis committees is imperative to the success of your device.  

Making any of these four mistakes is a sure-fire way to get a thumbs down.

Solving a Problem That Doesn't Exist

Terri Nelson, Mayo Clinic's director of value analysis, said she was recently presented with a new product: a box to hold disposable medical gloves.

While she conceded that it is possible that gloves do occasionally escape their box, she said it hasn't been identified as a big issue in her organization.

"This goes back to the question of, 'Is it really a problem?'" she said. "I don't need that, the end user doesn't' need that."

So why would a hospital spend money to solve a problem that doesn't exist?

The answer: It wouldn't.

Over-Engineering Your Device

Another mistake device companies make, Nelson said, is revamping an existing product by adding new bells and whistles that don't offer any tangible benefit.

"When it's over-engineered, it's not relevant any longer," she said.

The problem, explained Tom KraMer, president and managing principal at Kablooe Design, is often a result of engineers getting carried away.

"A lot of times, in the engineering world, we want to add all this flashy, cool, new technology, thinking that it's going to make the product win," he said. "But the problem is that it's not done with any vision toward the budget, clinical value, economic value, or user adoption."

Not Considering the Total Cost of Your Product

Part of the value analysis committee's job is to consider the total cost of ownership of any products, services, and equipment it evaluates.

"That means anything that adds to the cost of the product, including price, freight, and the cost of conversion--which can be huge," said Jim Van Drasek, systems director, materials management, at HealthEast Care System, a nonprofit healthcare provider organization in St. Paul, MN.

For example, when HealthEast was considering switching to new infusion pumps, it had to take into account that the organization's 2000 nurses would need to be trained on the new devices--a significant cost that must be considered.

Trying to Read the Value Analysis Committee's Mind

While hospital value analysis committees may seem like mysterious entities that do their work behind closed doors, they're more transparent than you might think.

"You can't read my mind, so we have made a conscious effort to . . . go to high-spend suppliers and go to their marketing departments so we can have a dialogue," Nelson said.

These kind of conversations, she said, can give device developers a heads' up about practice changes and other factors that could aid in new product development.

Hear more advice from Nelson, KraMer, and Van Drasek in a panel discussion, "Getting Your Product into the Hospital: Tips from Hospital Value Analysis Committees," on September 21, 2016, at MD&M Minneapolis.

 

Jamie Hartford is MD+DI's editor-in-chief and serves as director of content for medical brands in UBM's Advanced Manufacturing Group. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @MedTechJamie.

[image courtesy of AMBRO/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]

 

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