In the highly regulated healthcare market, developing a safe and functioning product is only a small part of the challenge. As Fisher & Paykel Healthcare knows too well, the far bigger concern, quite often, is getting the product to market, expeditiously.
New product development can quite often be simplified to throwing a few tried and tested ingredients together into a new combination, wrapping the concoction in some flash packaging and sending it out to stores. And while there is always a high level of risk involved in releasing something to the market, the stakes are a bit higher when it comes to the medical device industry that Fisher & Paykel Healthcare operates in.
The healthcare industry is incredibly conservative about trying new things, and conventional wisdom dictates that a new product would normally take around 15 years to introduce to the market.
This is, of course, understandable, given a lot of harm can be done to patients by medical devices that don’t meet high standards of specialised healthcare. In this instance, this challenge was further exacerbated by the fact that the new product developed by Fisher & Paykel was designed to help the most vulnerable among us: babies and young children.
The Optiflow Junior product was developed to improve the quality of respiratory care given to infants, who struggle to breath on their own. Until the release of this product, the ventilatory support provided to children was often quite restrictive, adversely impacting on their comfort in an important developmental phase of their lives.
Speaking about the previous methods of support in an explanatory video on the Fisher & Paykel website, nurse Mary King, the education lead at Rosie Hospital in the UK, observed: “We had some concerns around babies with sore noses. You could see quite often that they were quite uncomfortable.”
The Optiflow Junior product solved all these problems, but Fisher & Paykel still had to find a way to expedite its release to market.
Fisher & Paykel invested heavily in research across the world to assure medical professionals that the product was safe. This was a mammoth effort that saw the mobilisation of vast numbers of people from around the world. The entire project was about educating the market and winning the trust of not only clinicians but also of mums and dads worried about their little ones.
Despite the high level of difficulty associated with the campaign, it was a massive success and resulted in outstanding revenue and sales growth for Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. Because of the ground-breaking work the organisation has done in the local market, the Junior Optiflow Junior product is now available in over 120 countries worldwide. And in addition to the financial rewards, those involved also take comfort from knowing that they have greatly improved the quality of life for children across the world. The future certainly looks healthy, not only for Fisher & Paykel but for all the kids who have benefitted from the company’s innovative product development and marketing.
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