From arterial stents to ventilators to monitoring devices, medical device development is incredibly challenging for one fundamental reason: the universe of variations in the human body. Although the aerospace and automotive industries may require the most complex product designs to compete, a Boeing 737 and a Mercedes Sprinter van have the benefit of being nearly identical worldwide. On the other hand, developing a breakthrough insulin delivery device that can be safely operated by both a 14-year-old youth and an arthritic senior alike, can be deceptively difficult.
As if that wasn’t enough, the recent pandemic has replaced the collaborative environments and conveniences of conference rooms and labs with isolated home offices, Zoom calls, and Dropbox for many medical device manufacturers not on the Coronavirus frontlines. Businesses that were ahead of the curve in their digital transformation pivoted to remote work without missing a beat, while digital laggards have seen their employees become less productive and more frustrated by the day.
Now that full- or part-time remote work is expected to be an integral part of the “next normal,” medical device manufacturers have a choice to make; integrate digital platforms designed to accelerate product innovation in a world where face-to-face collaboration isn’t guaranteed, or watch your competition leap ahead of you.
Here are three ways digitally transformed medical device developers are accelerating their product innovation in the “next normal.”
All your data in one place
With development teams spread across town or around the world, the need to have all product information available digitally—and immediately accessible to anyone who needs it, without compromising security—is more acute than ever.
Even before the pandemic, product engineers were spending 33% of their time doing nothing but searching for information, collecting data, recreating data, and other activities that simply prepared them to get their work done.
Cloud-based collaboration platforms can deliver a significant productivity boost by ensuring every bit of information about your medical devices is stored in one secure, central location where it can be easily found and accessed at any time.
These platform-based solutions can increase the innovation, productivity, and overall employee engagement of product development teams because they’re free to spend more of their day creating and solving challenges and less time just looking for the information they need to get started.
More robust data platforms for more robust products
Medical devices can be incredibly complex, requiring hardware, software, connectivity, and cloud working seamlessly together to deliver the desired value: “a system of systems,” so to speak. Most general business/office applications and legacy development processes aren’t able to scale to meet the growing product complexity, creating the need for the kind of force-fits and workarounds that occur when workers don’t have the right tools for the job.
Leading product developers have migrated away from traditional document-based environments and embraced model-based systems engineering (MBSE). MBSE uses robust 2D and 3D models as the base unit of reference, capable contain all the system requirements, design, analysis, verification, and validation data about the product within them.
The models’ ability to deliver complex, multi-dimensional product information at every phase of the development process:
- Ensures your developers are always working with the latest, most correct information – “one version of the truth”—anywhere in the world.
- Integrates ironclad change management protocols by automatically alerting anyone affected by a change to the model, no matter where the change is initiated in the development cycle.
- Accelerates product development time to market and innovation by empowering developers to reuse proven “off the shelf” models to create new products.
Using simulation to speed development and cut costs
Today’s cloud-based simulation tools allow digitally advanced product developers to run thousands of real-world tests on products in development without the need to create a single physical prototype or conduct a single sheep study, in the case of medical devices.
Given the infinite variety of dimensions, compositions and conditions present within the human body, a simulation is a powerful tool for medical device manufacturers looking to develop products that can safely accommodate the widest possible range of patients, users, and applications.
Simulation not only dramatically slashes development costs and time to market compared to physical testing, but it may also reduce the need for sheep studies and human testing in some applications.
Simulation results can also be shared with clinicians, surgeons, nurses, and other users to capture their feedback without the need for costly physical prototyping, further cutting production costs and time to market.
Freed from the resource pressures of prototyping and testing, your development teams will be much more willing and able to unlock their innovative potential and develop more “moonshot” products that revolutionize your areas of opportunity, rather than settling for incremental improvements that are more likely to meet target development metrics.
Taking the next step
If you’re a medical device developer or manufacturer looking for ways to speed your product development, improve your quality, and cut your development costs, register for a free webcast, “Quality Management for Medical Devices In Today’s New World” going live on August 27, 2020, at 11:00 am EDT, hosted by Persistent Systems, a certified Value Solutions Partner for Dassault Systèmes.