1.1 Strategic Focus

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Getting Started

Choosing a strategic focus is an exciting first step in the biodesign innovation journey. Use the following steps to help chart a course.

Take Inventory

What to Cover

Before thinking about a specific practice area to pursue, perform a personal inventory. Define a mission that reflects the defined purpose, priorities, and specific goals in launching the biodesign innovation process. Next, assess key strengths and weaknesses, and begin thinking about how to complement the innovator’s skills with those of different team members as the process progresses. Then, identify the key acceptance criteria that will be used to ensure the most appropriate strategic focus area. Prioritize these acceptance criteria in case trade-offs become necessary in the evaluation of specific opportunities.

Where to Look

Personal Reflection As an individual researcher/academic, innovator, or leader of a team, spend time alone reflecting on the questions and issues outlined in the Fundamentals section of this chapter. Complete an honest assessment of personal motivators, capabilities, and the characteristics that any project must possess to be fulfilling.

Facilitated Session(s) If working in a group, consider holding one or more facilitated session to build consensus regarding the team’s mission, strengths/weaknesses, and acceptance criteria.

Advice from Respected Advisors Sometimes others can help innovators identify their strengths and weaknesses. Through the process of getting to know the innovator, advisors can offer important insights that can help one develop a vision.

Articulate a Strategic Focus

What to Cover

Begin by performing research to identify a series of different strategic focus areas that might perform well against the defined acceptance criteria. Evaluate opportunities carefully and objectively against each criterion. Take into account external factors affecting each area and how they impact the fit with defined acceptance criteria. Remain cognizant of the potential for conflicts of interest and use the highest ethical standards in choosing a strategic focus. Continue narrowing down the list of strategic focus areas until the best fit can be identified. Be as specific as possible (e.g., the desire to explore improvements in early-stage breast cancer treatment) without jumping ahead to medical needs or solutions (which are addressed in the next two chapters).

Where to Look

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ sponsors and conducts research that provides evidence-based information on health care outcomes; quality; cost, use, and access. From its website, one can gain access to longitudinal data regarding patient interactions with the healthcare system, including all transactions and their codes (indicating procedures and diagnosis), as well as location of service, which can be used to help develop market segments. Important databases accessible via the site include:

HCUPnet A free, online query system based on data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). It provides access to health statistics and information on hospital stays (inpatient encounters) at the national, regional, and state levels.

Industry Specific News Resources Online and offline publications in the medtech field, such as InVivo, Start-Up Magazine, Medtech Insight, FierceMedicalDevices, and Medgadget are also useful sources of relevant information.

MEPS Data – The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides longitudinal data on the health expenditures of 30,000 U.S. households via the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS). This data is publicly available for primary analysis. It is useful for more detailed analyses of market segments (and sizing), but working with the data can be labor intensive. Data is available for conditions with a 1 percent or greater prevalence rate.

Professional Societies These associations can provide a wealth of information to help innovators understand issues and opportunities within a potential focus area. See online Appendix 1.1.1 for a table that includes a sample of the professional societies for select medical conditions.

PubMed PubMed is a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes more than 16 million citations from the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE) and other life science journals dating back to the 1950s.

U.S. Census Bureau Provides online access to the country’s latest census data.

World Health Organization WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. Information on global health trends, research, policies, and standards can be found through this group.