Innovation Risk Reduction: Methods & Tools to Burn Down Risk

November 20, 2017

By Amanda Brantner, Marketing Strategist

Medical product design and development comes with inherent risks that, if not managed appropriately, can hinder market adoption and success. Ximedica practices “human-centered innovation” that reduces risk by focusing on user needs and how they influence the technology’s commercial path. Ximedica’s innovation process helps clients reduce risk in their launch, and creates true value in an increasingly complex healthcare landscape.

Ximedica’s Joe Gordon, Vice President of Innovation, and Tom Lutzow, Director of Human Factors Industrial Design, recently sat down with Medical Design & Outsourcing for their MDO Webinar Series to discuss methods and tools that can help innovators prepare for, evaluate, and burn down the risk in their programs.

The innovation process is a marriage of concept generation and research that is essential in establishing successful business strategies. This process also provides calibration activities to align goals and metrics both within teams and among development partners.

Read more about solutions Ximedica has delivered using this approach.

The process contains three flexible and scalable segments: Prepare, Create, and Focus.

1. Prepare

Preparing for a program involves immersion and contextual inquiries, both aimed at identifying friction points and determining key technical challenges. “When starting a new program at Ximedica, we align our team members and tailor the program to desired outcomes. It’s important to uncover that conversation early in the process to make sure we can plot ourselves early,” said Tom Lutzow. This step is key to calibrating expectations and needs between all parties as well as establishing and understanding the context of product. User research and workflow building provide avenues to gain empathy for the user and their frustrations.

2. Create

The actual act of generating solutions to the problem at hand requires breaking down the problem into smaller, discrete problem statements to focus efforts on. “Seed generation” is the development of concept “seeds,” or ideas, that address the problem statements. Joe Gordon says, “Breaking down the problem is one of the fundamental rules at Ximedica…anything that will ignite the inspirational process will help us to identify the solution and look at the problem through a different lens.” Inspirational areas, such as Ximedica’s Think Tank, can help drive innovative seed-creation by pulling together people with the right experience to look at the problem through different lenses and harness their knowledge and opinions. These seeds are then filtered and sorted based on complimentary features to build full system solutions. During this phase, research activities are still paramount, using a multi-disciplinary approach to deeply explore conflicting needs and requirements. By focusing on high risk areas and priorities, the team can round out a small number of relative solutions that can progress to the next stage of the process.

3. Focus

Evaluating the solution systems identified and entering the “down-selection process” begins with relative comparisons and concept feedback. While not a requirement, receiving concept feedback from early research with users, focused testing groups, and expert opinions can provide valuable insights and ground in project constraints. Creation of 2-D illustrations, foam models, story boards, and system level models facilitates meaningful feedback to guide the process to a final system. “Putting things into user’s hands and watching how they interact is an important step in the process,” said Joe Gordon. “Doing so early allows our team to learn what works and what does not, while identifying the nuances of a product to gain richer insight.” Additionally, outlining key metrics for each system solution allows for relative comparison of the systems and a visualization of the tradeoffs for opposing needs. The process is not a “one and done” activity, but rather an iterative means to making the follow-on activities easier. This information will then provide decision makers with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions on how to proceed.

Overall, the innovation process highlights the importance of taking stock of what you know, what you don’t know, and then reacting accordingly. It is more than brainstorming: it is a dynamic process that can be flexed and refined to fit any development program. To read more about Ximedica’s development process, click here..

For more details and information about Ximedica’s User-Centric Innovation Process, watch the full #MDOWebinar on-demand here.