Looking back at the innovations in medicine, one can see that they have come about as a need to solve problems. This is why it is important for a new medical product to be focused on solving a problem, or preventing a problem presenting itself in the future. This is at the core of medical innovation; what pain points does your product address? In today’s medical world, problems are plenty. New medicines and treatment methods are needed for curing and treating existing diseases and ailments. In the delivery of cures and treatments solutions are needed for faster, more efficient and cheaper ways of delivering healthcare.
Does your product solve a problem?
A good product should ideally solve a problem in either of the aforementioned areas; curing and treatment, or delivery of medical services. Good examples of solving problems can be found here. This then helps you answer the next question which is;
Who is the product aimed at?
Different cures and treatments have different scopes of market; a HIV vaccine will find a market globally, while a back brace will find a market in people with back ailments. However, a product could have a big potential market but lots of competition, e.g. a treatment for flu symptoms. Other products have a small market but are highly needed, i.e. a niche market, for example, anti-snoring devices.
What is the scale of the problem solved?
Penicillin is truly remarkable because it solved a huge problem, bacterial infections that afflict the whole of mankind. This is a high impact innovation. Some products are innovative but not impactful because they do not solve a huge problem e.g. compression socks. The scale of problem solving by a product plays a big role in its adoption by the market. The big rush to find a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus is a good pointer into how big a market can be created in the medical world by disease outbreak.
Is your product affordable? Affordability of medical products involves issues of ethics because essentially medical innovation is supposed to alleviate human suffering. This is a tricky balancing equation because you will have to account for costs in R&D, production and delivery. Is there possibility for getting these costs subsidized by stakeholders such as the government or philanthropic entities? A good pointer to this would be HIV antiretroviral drugs, whose production costs are very high, but which have become relatively affordable because governments and NGOs are willing to cater for these costs.
In summary, the first stage in product innovation is the statement; this product is to solve problem A for market B and at Price C.
Want to learn more? Here is a great podcast resource.