When I think of biotech, I think of nanobots, AI personalized surgery, orthopedic design, and exponential ways of healing the human body. Biotechnology is a wonderful creation, and it has fueled so much of our society to live longer lives and to improve our health.

But as a medical doctor, I have come across several hurdles with biotech. In some instances, biotech solves the problems that we need solving. But in other instances, biotech leaves us wanting. Products remain undeveloped, underfunded, or sitting on shelves.

Biotechnology companies and entrepreneurs have great ideas, and I think that they need to work alongside medical doctors to bring biotech dreams to reality. As medical doctors, we are trained not only in medical knowledge and applications but in solving patient problems and providing optimized patient health.

This is why medical doctors can play a vital role in biotech development as their clinical champions. Here’s what I mean by that and what the industry needs to do to make this happen:

What is a Clinical Champion?

A clinical champion is not simply some fancy word that I made up—however, it has become a core part of my professional makeup. According to Cranley et al. (2017) sourced in Wood et al., (2020)(opens in a new tab), a clinical champion is “typically defined as an individual within an organization who has a responsibility to advocate for change, motivate others and use their position and expert knowledge to facilitate the adoption of a particular innovation.”

Clinical champions exist in this respect every day. We go to work in our clinics and we use the research, technologies, and innovations that we think will change lives—and this is often how it works out!

The dissemination and adoption of research into clinical practice in health care settings is a complex and challenging process, and it requires a clinical champion out in the field for it to be successful. Clinical champions will implement research, innovation, or biotech, and adopt evidence-based practices that help organizations and health industries grow.

This can be absolutely groundbreaking in certain settings, like Wood et al.’s discipline of mental health and substance abuse. In their systematic review, Wood et al. (2020) found that the clinical champions were able to:

  • Help with faster initiation and persistence in the application of novel interventions
  • Help organizations overcome systemic barriers
  • Boost staff engagement and motivation

They confirmed that within their field, clinical champions were important to using new biotech, allowing for technologies and methodologies to be put to the test to make a pivotal change.

And, oftentimes, once these methodologies, technologies, and research gets to the clinics, it has a strong potential to be effective, translating into higher quality treatment and alleviating burdens of diseases and illnesses.

So while it can’t be said for certain whether clinical champions will always make a difference, these results do show that they can be effective at testing and implementing research-based interventions.

Why Do We Need Clinical Champions?

Before we really dive into what the clinical champion looks like related to biotech, it’s important to understand why this role is so important. As mentioned, biotech is critical to our development(opens in a new tab) as a society in our basic understandings of health and human progress. Biotechnology has become critical to medicine. Biotechnologies, therefore, need to survive, be successfu(opens in a new tab)l, and thrive.

While biotechnologies are being engineered every day, without the clinical champion by their side, they may not be used effectively or be properly implemented in clinics. Americans, unfortunately, remain skeptical of effective healthcare. But clinical champions can help mediate this.

Clinical champions often have a deep understanding of the philosophical need for biotechnology and they can motivate and educate their coworkers on the product.

Without these champions, biotech companies would need to regularly visit clinics all throughout their region for training, check-ins, and assessments. Since they can’t be there all the time, the clinicians who aren’t as motivated or familiar with products and testing those products might not feel inclined to ask questions over the phone. It’s simply easier to have someone on-site with knowledge and passion about the product to help it succeed.

Clinical champions will not only help your product succeed, but they can be pivotal to your bottom line. If you’re a biotech startup, and this is one of your first products, you’ve likely invested a lot of money and time into developing this product. If it fails, then your company has the potential to fail. Some companies can’t risk this failure.

Other companies are spending billions of dollars developing a product and want to see it succeed. Clinical champions can help this become a reality.

What Does the Clinical Champion Look Like?

If you’re convinced, and for good reason, that the clinical champion is the way to go, then it’s time to step up and into the role.

As a medical doctor, you need to get in front of the amazing biotechnologies that are shaking up healthcare and you need to build partnerships with companies who are doing it right. Biotech companies need to reach out to clinics and other private practices and seek to build relationships.

The “clinical champion” does not emerge overnight. In fact, most times they are selected. In private practices, this means that the champion can be chosen. Biotech companies with good working relationships at clinics can also go out and pick the right person for the job.

Being a clinical champion can be a huge motivator as well. Considering the financial investment in your product, then biotech companies could consider passing off bonuses or commissions to the private practice and, by extension, the clinical champion as a way of encouraging someone to step up. On top of this, the office will also gain access to leading tech. If the tech is beta tested properly, then this can lead to major advancements at your clinic for (virtually) free!

And you want these technologies in your company!

While there might be some training involved, they often lead to more fruitful work performance and environments. Your workers are more efficient, less stressed, and can provide higher quality work. Patients are happier and are willing to tell their friends and/or come back time and time again because they know that you are investing in your patients’ health, your company’s development, and you are providing the leading advancements in your field.

Play an Active Role in Biotech Development

As a medical doctor, I am shocked when I see the number of medical doctors (which is very few) who want to play a role in biotech development, implementation, testing, and marketing. Biotechnology is a huge field that is not going anywhere, and the more we welcome it, then the more successful it will become.

There are huge financial incentives as well. Not only will your practice be rewarded by the biotech companies, but again your patients see this improvement and they keep coming back.

The championing of new and innovative biotechnologies should not be something that is rejected or deemed a hindrance. Instead, it should be welcome with open arms! Collaboration is key to the next healthcare revolution, and it’s time to jump on board!

Not sure how this works? Reach out to me, Dr. Vonda Wright, to see how to get your next clinical champion. I am happy to consult on working with medical doctors and biotechnology companies alike so that we can ensure the future success of this generation of healthcare!