Why medical device venture is difficult

Pitchbook released their  ”Second Quarter 2013 U.S. Venture Capital Data” last week, and the outlook for medical device venture deals continues to be difficult. Based on first half actual data, Pitchbook forecasts that the total number of early stage device deals in 2013 will hit a six-year low – a steep drop from 2012 and about half of the 2008 peak.

1. Testing is difficult. Doctors don’t have time to enter data. We barely have time to sleep and eat. We barely want to enter our case log but we are forced to. There is no way we want to do extra work with little pay and little sleep.

2. There is no incentive to try new things. WE have to learn new device. Learning curve is what we don’t want and to look idiotic in front of residents, other attending will hurt our ego. Yes, doctors are biggest egotistic people you will ever know. We don’t like to admit to others or ourselves but we are.

3. RIsk on trying new things. THere is a old motto from medical school. Never be the first or the last to try new things. However if we are not pioneer on medical devices, there will never be a first and new innovation.

4. Hierarchy . Medical field is very much like military. We need a lot of process to get things approved. If our boss say we don’t try something. We follow orders. IF you are in a non-academic environment, the spirit of innovation will be even lower. 

5. NO centralized way to innovate and entry data. THis is true, before a medical device is tested. The company should provide us easy program to enter data. There should be government supported medical device testing so everything is ethical and researchers are rewarded for their hard work through research grant, so we can continue to innovate.

6. Patients who are willing to enter the tests even with full disclosure are low too. Again, no one wants to be the first to try unless they are dying and there are no other options. 

So a lot of patients ask me about something but mainly why are we are doing things that doesn’t make sense. I tell them unfortunately, that is the way it is. But deep down, I wish I could improve the system. I wish I can make things better for my patients. I didn’t go to medical school so I can tell patients that is the way it is.  I become a doctor so I can make a difference. 

We medical people are really dinosaurs. We don’t like to move too fast. We like the idea of innovation but we don’t want to be the one that do it. After all, debts are crushing us, and we have family to feed. And Obama care is making our lives even harder. I saw a pediatric surgeon working long hours and sat there after he rescued a kid from bowl obstruction. He looked very tired with his hand on his head. If doctors’ lives are not better, innovation will be even lower. Even in conference, sales people told me it is very hard to advertise since physicians don’t have time to see them. I believe there should be better way that device world and physicians can communicate so patients can benefit and there should be ethical and regulated ways which device can be used properly. US doctors are still the leader of medical field, and only through innovation can we maintain that status. 



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