Greatest medical devices of all time… since now

The hard-working health care professionals we have today get a lot of help from amazing medical devices. The doctors, nurses and others from more than a century ago — and especially those from more than two centuries ago — would be amazed at the things that we can do in health care today. No matter your health care specialty, you have probably benefited from medical innovations.

Post-Greatest med devices collage

Credit: QMED

Recently Qmed surveyed its audience about their thoughts on what are the most important medical devices ever developed. At the top it was the hypodermic syringe. Along with the myriad of substances for which they are the prime, if not the only, delivery vehicle, have probably been responsible for saving more lives and alleviating more suffering than any other piece of medical technology. Completed the list the pacemaker, the eyeglasses, the X-ray machine, the MRI, the stethoscope, the band-aid, the catheter, the CT Scanner, the cochlear implant, the intraocular lenses and the heart valves.

Innovation within the medical device industry had led to tremendous advances in the provision of care for patients worldwide. But it is a process that needs to continue.

Our mission in Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona) program is to train the next generation of healthcare innovators, the ones that will invent and implement the new biomedical products, through the biodesign process, a systematic approach based on unmet needs finding to later increase our ability to diagnose and treat conditions.

Post-Greatest med devices collage 02

d·HEALTH Barcelona 2013-2014 fellows

We are currently seeking the fellows for d·HEALTH Barcelona 2014-2015. Worldwide youngsters with interest in the development of medical technologies and with advanced degrees in engineering, design, business or life sciences are encouraged to apply before May 11, 2014.

We offer the fellows a once-in-a-life-time experience, first hand access to real-world experts from the medical technology, legal and venture capital sectors worldwide and a fun learning/working environment while they join an emerging field.

d·HEALTH Barcelona 2013-2014 fellows are currently prototyping their innovations. Will one of them join, in the future, the list of greatest medical devices ever? Or will be yours, future fellow reading this post? Only time will tell. Meantime, if you want to get more info about the application process or, even better, apply and become a member of our red polo shirts team, click here.

Victor McCray’s recipe to reduce risk in business


Credit: Ocular Dynamics

Every business venture, regardless of economic climate, market conditions, products, personnel and capitalization, has risks. Assessing those risks is the first step to later start taking measures to reduce them.

Victor McCray has plenty of experience managing risks and he shared it with Design Health Barcelona fellows at a recent videoconference.

Victor is a prominent figure in medtech, both a physician and an entrepreneur. As CEO and Co-Founder of Ocular Dynamics, a Silicon Valley based company developing a polymer contact lens coating for patients with dry eye disease, McCray knows what he is talking about, and fellows took full advantage of their time with him, covering a wide range of topics. If you keep reading here you will also learn Victor’s secret to manage entrepreneurial risk.


Biodesign: show, don´t tell

Biodesign is a hothouse for medical devices. Since the methodology was founded at Stanford University back in 2001, several companies that bear the fingerprints of Biodesign fellows have entered healthcare market.

One of the latest is San Francisco-based iRhythm Technologies. It traces its founding to the Biodesign class of 2006. This company, cerated by fellow Uday Kumar, has developed the ZIO patch, a wireless adhesive heart monitor patch to help diagnose irregular heartbeats, known as arrhythmias. It has already treated over 10000 patients.

Recently, a study from the Scripps Translational Science Institute, published in the American Journal of Medicine, has shown that iRhythm’s ZIO patch detects more arrhythmia events than a traditional Holter monitor and provides a better experience for patients.

Biodesign students, like our fellows, don´t accomplish success after listening to a bunch of lectures from talkers. The secret sauce of the program is the community: the venture capitalists, the clinicians, the entrepreneurs… who come in to offer their specific expertise to help the fellows navigate the risky path of commercialization of new medical devices.


Source: iRythm Technologies


An intense start: the lives of the fellows during the bootcamp

Last September, Design Health Barcelona fellows started their journey in healthcare entrepreneurship with a trip by bus to Collbató, a small town next to Montserrat, one of the most famous and beautiful natural landscapes in Catalunya. There, the 12 fellows lived for a week, knowing each other, sharing breakfast, lunch, dinner, leisure time, the first lessons and, above all, future dreams and ambitions.

That week marked the beginning of the bootcamp stage, a four weeks long stage in which fellows attended over 150 hours of lectures on fields essential to develop medical technology.

The video below summarizes the experiences of our fellows during their first month as future innovators in just five minutes! It is beautiful! Enjoy it!

The scientist, the physician and the engineer

Today, business evolves at a rapid pace. Innovation is more critical than ever. Health care is not an exception. Over the last 60 years there have been significant advances in medicine and there is clearly an opportunity to do more… much more.

As health care has become more complex, developing the products and services we will be using tomorrow and identifying ways to do better what we do today requires a wide breath of knowledge, skills and abilities. Multidisciplinary teams offer a unique space for nurturing new ideas, enabling them to grow, mature and evolve until they are ready for patients.

Scientists, physicians and engineers, even designers, are the professions that are clearly involved in the Med Tech industry. Put them in a room all together and sparks will fly and compelling solutions to medical needs will emerge.  That is if the collaborators trust each other and understand their different approaches to problem solving.

Differences in how to formulate and solve problems of physicians, engineers and scientists can also lead to some conflict. It is no news that the absence of a common vocabulary between these three types of professionals makes more difficult to communicate productively.

Physicians are trained to process patient symptoms and then determine the most common diagnosis based on historical information. Engineers make natural collaborations with physicians due to greater similarities in their approach to problem solving, compared to scientists.  Both types of professionals start with existing solutions that they apply to problems.  But engineers go one step further by utilizing existing solutions technology as the starting point for further optimization and customization.

However, scientists and engineers try to breakdown a problem to find a solution that requires the least amount of modification of an existing technology. In contrast to both engineers and physicians, scientists focus on components that can lead to a root cause of a problem.  But because the solutions are not practical or available at current time, this causes physicians’ and engineers’ frustration.

Professionals have different thinking styles depending on the formal training they received. In the following video you can listen to Dan Azagury MD, surgeon at Hôpitaux Universitaires in Geneva and lecturer at Design Health Barcelona program, explaining his own experience doing medical innovation in multidisciplinary teams as a 2011-2012 fellow of Stanford Biodesign and how it lead to co-found Ciel Medical Inc.


You can also learn more about the different ways of thinking of scientists, engineers and physicians and how to take advantage of them to bring ideas to life, communicate better and foster health care innovation in the following article written by Dan Buckland at Harvard and MIT at MedGadget.

How to effectively apply Biodesign Innovation

A few weeks ago, Ila Mirabile (@1ila), a neuroscientist and medical writer based in London, interviewed Jorge Juan Fernández (@jorgejuan), Head of Academics at Moebio and d·HEALTH Barcelona program, for Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable website. They talked about our new initiative to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation in healthcare at large. You can read the full interview here.

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.39.20 AM