Stanford Researchers Build Comprehensive Device Development Model

June 30, 2009 – 11:42 am

Researchers at Stanford University have published the first comprehensive model representing the medical device development process. Developed to help companies execute the bench-to-bedside process of product development more effectively, the model is published with the article “Stage Gate Process for the Development of Medical Devices” in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of Medical Devices.

The model was constructed based on best-practice analysis and interviews with more than 85 experts actively involved in the development, commercialisation, regulation and use of medical devices.

“Medical devices contribute significantly to the continuous improvement of healthcare,” says lead author Jan Pietzsch, PhD, Consulting Assistant Professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. “Depending on the type and complexity of the technology, the device development process can take anywhere from 15 months to several years. As a result, successfully bringing innovative products to patients hinges on knowledge of and planning for this process.”

Presented in linear form with five major phases and four decision gates, the model describes a process that is applicable to a broad range of medical technologies and innovation settings. According to the authors, the model is used by the developers of both highly sophisticated premarket approval (PMA) and premarket notification (510(k)) devices, for which US FDA approval typically requires some risk-appropriate form of bench or clinical data, as well as by the makers of less sophisticated devices that may be exempt from most regulatory requirements.

The five major phases and decision gates include:

  1. Initiation, opportunity and risk analysis.
  2. Formulation, concept and feasibility.
  3. Design, development, verification and validation. 
  4. Final validation and product launch preparation. 
  5. Product launch and postlaunch assessment.

Pietzsch adds that the medical device development process has become increasingly complex in recent years because of the advent of advanced technologies, stricter regulatory requirements and the increasing importance of reimbursement decisions.
The study results demonstrate that a significant portion of the development process is governed by regulations that influence the manner in which medical devices are developed, approved and brought to market. The pace at which such regulatory requirements can be met determines when the device will reach the clinic.
The article emerged from research performed by the authors as part of a study, “Medical Device Development Models,” funded by the Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth).

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