Globalising endoscopic R&D, working in partnership
Mike Drexell, Chief Technology Officer for PENTAX Medical talks about the globalized approach to product development. 2016 has seen the introduction of three premium products across GI, ENT and Bronchoscopy and presents an important milestone in the history of PENTAX Medical, with these new product innovations benefiting from truly globalized research and development.
In the last five years we have established facilities in the US (Montvale and Boston) and Germany to enable us to work closely with local markets throughout our R&D processes. This globalization project has resulted in four R&D sites across three continents generating local market data and working with regional KOL (Key Opinion Leader) groups. I believe this global approach to endoscopic R&D is a market first, PENTAX Medical is the only manufacturer to work on this global/regional level.
We have an ethos at PENTAX Medical which involves bringing together the elements required to deeply understand exactly what the unmet needs are in the market. We work closely with our KOL network to identify which new products we should be considering.
Once we have identified an unmet need where we feel we can engineer an effective solution, and decided on possible solutions, we then have to consider the product definition, which technologies are best suited to this application? Our KOL network plays an important role here, as further in-the-field testing is conducted through multi center studies to establish which technologies work best to provide the ideal solution to the unmet need.
By analyzing all of the data from the rigorous testing procedure and looking at the data and feedback from our consultants we are now able to down-select from our prototypes. Multiple units of the chosen prototype are produced featuring our further defined technology and distributed to our KOL network to see if we now satisfy the unmet need. Our engineers and clinical specialists cover thousands of miles visiting each of the test centers located in hospitals and clinics around the globe, working with consultants to ensure we have the optimum solution to the problem in focus.
All of the previous data gathering, consultations, bench and field testing make up the research stage. As we start development we liaise heavily with all the departments within our organization, clinical specialists, sourcing and quality management. We work especially closely with the quality management and sourcing teams to ensure high standards of quality engineering and components.
The full specification is now complete, and we can produce a prototype that is so close to a final production model that hopefully consultants cannot notice much of a difference. These final prototypes are then put into the hands of our KOL networks for final evaluation. As part of our continuous development we are further enhancing our KOL program with the introduction of the Blackbox Innovations™ project which looks to build on our existing relationships with KOL’s allowing us to work even more closely and enhance our working relationships.
2016 has seen the fruits of our labor and the benefit of this global approach with the introduction of a number of key products across three areas of specialism, with more to come in 2017. One of the key products for this year brought together two technologies, digital and optical enhancement, i-scan and i-scan OE. Our KOL’s were clear on the need to better identify both vascular and mucosal patterns with each technology having strengths in the two different applications. This new product, the OPTIVISTA was launched in May and we are seeing a lot of excitement in the market for this world first.
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