The process of biomedical device design is a fundamental skillset that students must learn in order to become effective innovators in the biomedical device industry. One of the initial steps in this process, needs finding, involves the observation of stakeholders and identification of problems in order to determine potential areas for innovation. However, following the identification of these needs, a filtering process is often employed, wherein external influences such as market dynamics, competition and intellectual property influence the potential for the successful development and commercialization of solutions in these needs area.
The DeFINE Program is a six-week clinical immersion program funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and VentureWell. DeFINE allows rising juniors and seniors in Bioengineering to experience, empathize, and observe various clinical specialties with the goal to identify needs and evaluate these needs from a technology valuation perspective. This enables students to learn how to assess the probability of technology commercialization for potential solutions to the identified needs.
In years 3 and 4 of the program, a new method of needs filtering was developed and piloted called DMVP (Define, Measure, Valuate, and Propose); also loosely summarized as a method to Determine the Most Valuable Problems for which to develop a novel solutions.
Each week during clinical shadowing, the students are trained to document observed clinical problems and evaluate each week’s top five problems using the DMVP method3. In step 1, Detect, the key observed variables People, Problem, Place and Procedures (the 4 P’s) related to each problem were documented and clarified. In step 2, Measure, students were tasked with the collection of the clinical significance and impact of the problem, through the assessment of Incidence, Prevalence, Morbidity and Mortality associated with the problem. In Step 3, Valuate, the students were tasked to research and quantify the key marketability variables of Market Size and Growth, and then initially identify key Intellectual property and Competitors within the market. Finally, in Step 4, Propose, students identified the Problem, Population and Outcome that the potential solutions should solve, and a Metric to measure the potential solutions before creating a clearly defined needs statement.
At the end of the program, students completed a survey and gave feedback on how the DMVP technique enhanced their understanding of the engineering design process and assessing biomedical needs. This paper will detail the DMVP process, provide templates and examples that were used in the program for the completion of the assessments, and provide an analysis of the survey results with suggestions for future improvement. The DMVP process was found to provide an easy to follow methodology that allowed the students to more intelligently discuss the observed problems from the perspective of finding “needs worth solving”.
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