Clinicians are crucial to the development of new medical technologies because they can help ensure that innovations are designed to meet defined clinical needs from an early stage. Often, however, clinicians have limited time available to commit to this process, and may lack experience of the innovation process.
We work with clinicians at every stage of the Medical Technologies IKC’s innovation pathway and are continually looking at ways to make that engagement as efficient and as effective as possible. This approach means we can develop viable business cases for our innovations, which speeds up the technology development process and also helps our innovators to secure investment because clinician involvement will boost a technology’s credibility.
The whole process starts with understanding clinical need. Our engagement process includes regular workshops with clinicians to articulate clinical needs and to show us where we need fresh solutions to improve patient care. We facilitate these discussions to ensure that all challenges are explored as fully as possible.
Our Innovation Clinics also bring together specific academic groups and relevant industry representatives with a team of Clinical Innovation Associates, comprising senior clinicians from a range of disciplines. These events give researchers and industrial contributors the opportunity to present their technologies to clinicians who can give feedback on the opportunities and barriers to its successful introduction into the clinic.
In addition to this, we host the Clinical Need website. This is an online service where clinicians can explain what they need to improve the care they offer to their patients. The statements are available via a LinkedIn forum where healthcare professionals, researchers and industrialists can connect and discuss ideas.
The overall aim of our clinical engagement approach is to improve the flow of information between clinicians and university researchers. Getting the clinical perspective right from the start and involving clinicians at every stage of development is key to a smooth commercialisation pathway.
Our Clinical Immersion programme is aimed at students and post-doctoral research assistants with an aptitude or a preference for working in medical technology innovation. We offer the opportunity to take part in a two-week hospital placement and be mentored by one of our Clinical Innovation Associates.
The placement gives participants an in-depth understanding of the clinical environment and an appreciation of the day-to-day activities and challenges faced by clinicians. Participants shadow ward, outpatient and theatre sessions and get a valuable understanding of the challenges of modern NHS clinical practice. This experience will help them to better direct their projects towards research translation, as well as helping them develop valuable new contacts in their field.
We believe there is valuable learning to be gained by immersing the participants in these environments and, ultimately, this will lead to improved understanding and communication between researchers and clinicians so that the clinical perspective is built in right at the start of research translation projects.
This placement was an insight into the unification of medicine and engineering. It gave me the opportunity to see the direct impact medical engineers make in the healthcare system.
Divya Baji (final year PhD in Medical and Biological Engineering)
Our close partnership with clinicians means we are able to invite researchers to Innovation Clinics where they can present their innovations to a panel of clinicians for feedback. These ‘Dragon’s Den’ style events mean researchers can get valuable insights into early-stage innovations, particularly into the possible changes that might be required before innovations would be suitable for clinical application.