Stanford Biodesign Project taking the Lead in High Impact Low Cost Innovation for Quality Healthcare

Dr. Paul Yock spoke at event, earmarking 10th anniversary celebration of the Bio2Device Group.


Dr. Yock is Professor of Medicine and Mechanical Engineering and Founding Co-Chair of Stanford’s new Department of Bioengineering.  He also holds a courtesy appointment on Operations, Information and Technology in the Stanford School of Business.  Dr. Yock is internationally recognized name in the field of medical devices.  His number of contributions to field of devices include, the Rapid Exchange balloon angioplasty system, which is now the primary system in use worldwide.  He also invented a Doppler-guided access system known as the Smart Needle and PD-Access.   The main focus of Dr. Yock’s research program has been in the field of intravascular ultrasound. He authored the fundamental patents for mechanical intravascular ultrasound imaging and helped conduct the initial clinical trials.  In 1986 he founded Cardiovascular Imaging Systems, which was acquired by Boston Scientific in 1994.  Dr. Yock has cofounded several other medical technology companies, and has authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications.


Dr. Yock talked about the changing world of medical technology innovation, where the developing world will increasingly play a major role.  Thus far, medical technology world has been dominated by US followed by Europe, followed by Japan.  Total market has been about $350 billion.  These developed countries dominated the industry because they were willing to spend large amounts of money.  But collective impact of three major issues brewing in the US, will dynamically shift this landscape.   Looming uncertainly with regard to FDA issues, reimbursement pressures, and dried out VC funding, will lead to declining rate of device approvals, with increasing pressure to contain costs.   Concurrently, there is an emergence of new generation of global medtech innovators, coming from countries like India, China, and Brazil.  They are coming with different cultural mindset and thinking about technology with a global focus.


Dr. Yock discussed the Stanford Biodesign Program that focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship, with 3 pronged foundation, identify, invent, and implement.  Innovation begins with a cross-cultural, multi disciplinary team of entrepreneurial students, working together to identify a need.  They practically live in the hospitals, until they come up with a list of about 200 needs.  Gradually, through rigorous process of need screening, that includes consideration of clinical impact, stakeholder impact, treatment options, and market characteristics, a few needs go forward, which further go through rigorous tests, and through the final process of elimination the team arrives at a handful of needs.  For each need, the team comes up with several concepts, which are taken through prototyping, and finally one concept is selected.


The Stanford Biodesign program is 12 years old.  During this period, 26 companies have emerged and have been funded, and so far over 150,000 patients have been treated by technologies, coming from the program.  Graduates of the program are working in top notch jobs, bringing the same rigor and discipline into their current careers.  Dr. Yock gave several examples.  Highly successful companies like iRhythm have emerged from this program.  He then talked about the changing world, with a rapidly growing middle class, in countries like India and China.  These upwardly mobile societies are demanding quality care, while at the same time, dealing with a rise in obesity, chronic heart disease, and diabetes.  Stanford Biodesign program’s mission is also to find and help train innovators in these countries.  These innovators come for short duration and work in multidisciplinary settings at Stanford.  After returning to their home countries, many of them have done some amazing things and have often come up with low cost, high impact, innovative technologies.  These innovations not only have an impact on quality and delivery of care in their home countries, but in a likely trend dubbed as “reverse innovation”, some of these low cost technologies may be adapted for use in the US, where increasing cost pressures continue to make a push for effective, low cost technologies.


The presentation generated enthusiastic response and an animated Q&A session.


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