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Learning to Commercialize Healthcare Innovation

Learning to Commercialize Healthcare Innovation

“4 out of 10 start ups fail because they’ve built something no one wants to buy,” says Mike Dempsey, CIMIT’s Entrepreneur in Residence and Accelerator Program Leader. “They haven’t taken the time to ask the tough questions to really understand their economic buyer.”

So, what does it take to successfully commercialize a healthtech innovation and bring it into clinical practice? That’s the question many clinicians and researchers with brilliant ideas on how to improve the sometimes-archaic healthcare systems ask themselves on a daily basis. In a world where research dollars are short and the imperative to improve access to high quality, cost effective care is a national priority, there is a critical need to improve the efficiency and likelihood of success by which these ideas become reality.

Enter the CIMIT CRAASH (Commercialization Readiness Assessment and Accelerator for Solutions in Healthcare) program. Like other healthcare commercialization programs CRAASH aims to improve translational research’s effectiveness and efficiency but is uniquely focused on getting teams out of the lab, and out of their comfort zones, to learn directly from patients, clinicians, payors, regulators, and funders under the guidance of successful healthcare entrepreneurs. The program has already been successful at helping teams bring their innovations to the next stage.

In addition to lectures, readings, and one-on-one coaching from a team of experienced healthcare executives, CRAASH challenges teams to complete 100 interviews during the rigorous 10-week program to deeply understand the ecosystem their innovation sits within, the economic buyer, the ultimate user, and other healthcare specific nuances their business will face.

These conversations are critically important to a company’s success. Without them you could be building something no one actually wants or needs–then you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy, and money in the meantime. CRAASH aims to mitigate these inefficiencies in the healthcare space and help bring useful healthtech to those that need it, faster, while building innovation capacity and helping participants learn how to contribute to an entrepreneurial endeavor.

BOLD Diagnostics, a young company focused on redefining the way blood pressure is monitored, signed up for CRAASH, at the recommendation of their program director at the Northwestern University Center for Device Development (CD2) program, to help with customer identification. However, what they learned over the course of the program ran much deeper from validating the clinical need, solidifying the value proposition, to ultimately finding the best fit in the market

“We definitely thought more broadly about the clinical need for our device. Once we stepped back and looked at our company from an 80,000 foot view, we were able to see the entire forest rather than focusing on trees,” said Kyle Miller, MD, MBA, Clinical Innovation Fellow. “We looked more broadly at other applications of our technology in the primary care, nephrology, and obstetrics space. We were also able to organize customer feedback into a deliverable that helped with our pitch to investors.”

Since the completion of the course, BOLD Diagnostics has gone on to win 4th place in the 2016 RICE Business plan competition, the worlds richest and largest graduate-level student start-up competition. 

“The weekly CRAASH questions definitely helped us during the question and answer periods of each round and helped us think through each aspect of our company, from the value proposition to the business model,” said Kyle Miller. “The judges, who were all investors from the South, hit on each point that was covered during the CRAASH course. Thanks to our participation, we were very well prepared and demonstrated our ability to execute on our proposed business strategy.”

All teams learn to be open to changing their thinking and are often surprised about what they find when they throw out their preconceived notions and get out of the lab to have meaningful conversations with people from all areas of the healthcare ecosystem. The results, whether it be a pivot, the discovery of a new market, or a deeper understanding of the path forward, lead to a greater chance of commercial success and positive impact on patient care.

Originally published on ILN Insights.



Publications

Avoiding Deal Killers

In today’s environment, even promising healthech innovations fail to get investments from financially motivated investors. As a result, solutions do not survive the so-called Valley of Death. There are numerous good reasons why investors choose not to invest. In many cases, it is because the innovator did not anticipate and prepare a response to a question about a particular risk. This can be traced back to the fact that innovators often fail to put themselves in an investor’s shoes. Doing so is critical to understanding why they may not invest in their solution—the “deal killers”.

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National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Point-of-Care Technology Research Network

This paper describes the POCTRN and the three currently funded Centers as examples of academic-based organizations that support  collaborations across disciplines, institutions, and geographic regions to successfully drive innovative solutions from concept to patient care.

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Healthcare Commercialization Programs

Healthcare commercialization programs (HCPs) are described and proposed as an option that institutions can add to their portfolio to improve translational research. In helping teams translate specifc healthcare innovations into practice, HCPs expand the skillset of investigators and enhance an institution's innovation capacity. Lessons learned are shared from configuring and delivering HCPs, which build on the fundamentals of the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps program, to address the unique challenges in supporting healthcare innovations and innovators.

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2014 CIMIT Clinical Impact Study Update

This is an ongoing, work-in-process update of CIMIT’s Clinical Impact Study (CIS). First conducted in 2009, the CIS is a self-assessment by CIMIT faculty and investigators of its project portfolio and Accelerator Program and now includes projects initiated between 1998 and 2012. The innovation portfolio, an important subset of the ways in which CIMIT helps speed innovations into patient care, represents an investment of almost $70M over 14 years. It also represents a rather unique longitudinal set of experiences from which to learn.

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IEEE Pulse Featuring CIMIT

If ever an industry was in need of both incremental and disruptive innovation it is today's health care industry. Realizing the full potential of innovation across the spectrum of health care environments is critical to address the well-documented, emerging global crisis generated by the aging of the population, the obligation to increase access for all to the best standard of care, and the societal imperative to contain costs.

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Facilitating Translational Research

Would a carpenter be asked to manage building a new housing development? Probably not. More likely a real estate developer with the skills, experience and knowledge of the local market and trades, including carpentry, would manage such an undertaking. Good developers anticipate and address the challenges of building and selling homes. Delivering attractive appropriately priced homes on time and on budget requires that developers use their knowledge, experience, and judgment to make numerous decisions that engage the right talent at the right time to balance development risks and costs.

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Venture Findings Featuring the CIMIT Model

The Consortia for Improving Medicine with Innovation & Technology (CIMIT) was established in 1998 by four leading academic medical centers and universities in the greater Boston area to leverage the value of a consortium to improve patient care through Deep Innovation using medical technology to solve pressing unmet medical needs.

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