Technology is clearly shaping the future of healthcare. In the year 2020 alone(opens in a new tab), 84 initial public offerings for biotech companies in North America took place and $15 billion US was raised. These figures, on top of the upwards trajectories and the increase in venture capital funds, prove that biotech will continue to be an industry worth investing in.

Due to the high profits available in this sector, I firmly believe that medical doctors (MDs) should be significantly involved in product development to improve product development, output and overall profits.

Here’s my take:

Importance of Having an MD During Product Development

In biotech, product development typically involves multiple stages of brainstorming, prototyping, market research, and beta testing, often costing millions of dollars throughout the entire process. Therefore, having someone who knows your market and knows its pain points will not only save money during development but launch the product out faster than the competition.

In this article, I will get into the ways that an MD can help guide product development, but what’s important is that an MD is not just an asset, it’s critical to your product success. Their knowledge, expertise, and experience will soon be a requirement. Not having one on hand means that your development firm and brilliant ideas fall flat, resulting in wasted money, time, and resources.

In particular, with an MD there at the early product development stage and guiding the process, you can avoid the instances of a prototype being developed and the market not liking the product or feeling like it is missing the target pain points. Even when a product gets to this stage, it has already cost thousands of dollars. With an MD on hand earlier, you can reap the following benefits:

  • Identify needed products early on in brainstorming
  • Provide a more accurate prototype, with less prototyping
  • Connect with the target demographic more thoroughly
  • Have a better understanding of the market needs, resulting in a more comprehensive product that is more worthwhile
  • Access to more up-to-date research to tap into emerging technologies worthwhile for development
  • Access to more beta testing groups that might provide more valuable data on the importance and functionality of the product

3 Ways an MD Can Guide Biotech Product Development

If you’re convinced of the importance of an MD on hand during your research and development stage as a clinical champion, then here’s how they can guide your product development:

  1. 1 - Utilize Their Knowledge of Research During Brainstorming

    Brainstorming is arguably one of the most important aspects of product development. In this pre-prototyped stage, there is not yet any idea of a product but rather multiple ideas of products.

    At this stage, your MD can look at your data-based list of potential products and give positive or negative feedback on each one. They can also tell you ways to modify the product development for certain demographics or pain points, add-ons, and critical insight.

    MDs are connected to the most forward and current research in that area, so they will be able to tell you what emerging technologies you can soon take advantage of and how to get in contact with them. For example, if you know you want to hit a certain target like orthopedics but you don’t have the resources to know what best steps to take, an MD is the best route to go here.

    MDs in orthopedics (if that is your desired avenue) will also have knowledge that you cannot gain on your own without an expert, and one which will drastically impact the product development portion. You want to access their emerging research knowledge so that you can turn it into usable emerging tech.

  2. 2 - Ask Them to be Critically Involved During Prototype Testing

    Once you’ve moved past product development, then your development team gets to work on prototyping, testing, and product enhancement. Here is another stage where your MD can step in to guide your team.

    While the MD does not necessarily need to be in there during the research stages, they should step in during the prototyping phase to review the product test and to see if it is worthwhile. They can also play with the product, manipulate it, and stress test it in their own ways so that you learn more about the product's potential.

    The MD will be able to clearly see what is right with it and what is wrong with it during prototyping. For example, they could look at the dimensions and consider the product way too large for its uses. This is critical feedback that you can get at a very early stage.

  3. 3 - Bring Them in on Market Stage and Testing

    Once you have a product ready to be tested, then you need to bring your MD with you to connect with critical market demographics and help them during testing.

    For example, if you want to market a test with a certain demographic that you have already obtained, then bring along your MD and have them explain aspects of the product in terms better suited for the health industry. On the flip side, you can also ask them to find volunteers that are very well suited for testing the product or who need it, as is the case with pharmaceutical companies.

    When they are involved at this level with consumers, they can better understand what the feedback means as well

Getting Involved in Product Development

In health technology, we have seen numerous products that have changed the way we think about supporting human health. From AI diagnostics for women’s healthcare to genome research and prescriptive medicine, MDs are on the cutting edge of this research and can help bridge the gap between important research and important biotech development.

With all the money that is spent on biotech product development, it’s critical to save as much as we can by minimizing the failed products and getting a product that will truly succeed. Having an MD on your side will help you obtain that.