Surgeon

CONCEPT SELECTION

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
—English Proverb

Junk can dance.
—David Kelley

After careful screening of many needs you have a clear statement of a focused problem worth solving.  Brainstorming has generated hundreds of ideas, many whimsical or outlandish.  At this point, it is time to commit.  There is a frequent tendency to perseverate, to delay because of uncertainty.  However, perfect certainty doesn’t exist and it’s impossible to consider a dozen concepts simultaneously.  It is far better to move expeditiously with the best information available at the moment and to react flexibly as the situation changes.  There is no shame in meeting a blind alley and even reversing if necessary.

Concept selection requires an understanding of the rules of the road for medtech innovation.  The delicate and frequently conflicting interplay between intellectual property, reimbursement, regulatory and business model options requires sophisticated judgment.  There is seldom a single “right” way. 

Just as concept selection is an iterative process, so too is prototyping.  Prototyping involves several steps, the first of which is closely linked to the concepts of brainstorming.  We build to learn.  Early on, crude mock-ups are constructed to serve as a “looks like” or “feels like” version of a device made of easily shaped and assembled materials.  Access to junk makes this easy and fun.  Foam core, plastic, cardboard, outdated surgical instruments, catheters and endoscopes can be “cannibalized” for early prototyping.  Duct tape rules.  The goal is to fail early, fail cheaply, and ultimately to fail better.  Crude can become more refined and the rules of the road revisited.
 
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