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February 11, 2021

What does it mean to be intentionally virtual?

When in-person meetings resume, many companies say virtual will continue to be their first choice. Here’s why.

Rising development costs paired with an ongoing shift to value-based care and the ever-accelerating pace of innovation are driving medical device companies to get creative when it comes to research and development. How can medtech teams find opportunities to lower costs, shorten timelines, and add agility to their work?

During the pandemic, medical device teams were immediately challenged to focus on supplying PPE and other products needed to diagnose and treat COVID-19. As elective procedures were paused, the industry concentrated on the emergency at hand. Now that the initial crisis has receded, medical device organizations are exploring ways to reduce future risk and build resilience that could help them withstand another crisis – even the next pandemic.

One approach is to prioritize value-based medicine, meaning innovations that serve unmet clinical needs, reduce costs, and optimize care delivery. Medtech companies can get closer to this goal by fine-tuning processes within R&D, where lowering costs and shortening timelines can play a role.

During the COVID-19 crisis, teams turned to virtual interaction out of necessity, only to discover that shifting some types of work to virtual environments can yield major efficiencies. Virtual work – which takes place in an asynchronous environment over a period of days or weeks, rather than in a series of one-off video calls – can help medical device teams shorten timelines for new product development and even increase speed-to-market.

Here are a few ways that medical device teams are leveraging virtual work to build agility and future-proof their business.

Keeping timelines under control

Structured as over-time sessions that last about a week to ten days, virtual work lets team members focus more intensely on their activities because they’re not forced to multitask. They can access the virtual work platform when it’s most convenient and when they can be most productive without distractions. Virtual work tends to be more task-focused because it involves less extraneous, socio-emotional communication and logistics- or planning-related activities.

These structured, focused interactions can happen any time, which is particularly advantageous for global organizations. All participants, regardless of where they live and work or what their daily schedule is like, are given an equal opportunity to provide their expert insight. And aside from providing asynchronous formats that eliminate time-zone challenges, virtual work platforms like ours also offer translation capabilities that help global teams overcome language barriers and garner more diverse insights more quickly. No endless email chains, no dropped threads, and more progression toward team goals.

Controlling costs

In traditional work structures, clinical trials and studies are associated with some of the biggest costs in R&D, not least due to the face-to-face approach generally preferred. Medical device teams can manage these costs by performing some of the work that involves external engagement virtually.

Leveraging virtual engagement can make conducting clinical studies more efficient overall, and while not all parts of clinical studies can take place virtually, activities like site selection, HCP collaboration, patient recruitment and engagement, and trial monitoring are all activities that can leverage virtual elements.

Taking advantage of virtual work for activities that previously required travel can also reduce costs, impact on the environment, and give HCPs, investigators, reps, and patients more time conducting their day-to-day activities and less time in transit to meetings and appointments.

When medical device teams acted quickly to respond to the demands of a global health crisis, they also uncovered strategies to increase efficiency and continue meeting objectives without the option to meet in person. As that capability returns, teams will continue to use the tools and tactics that provide the best way to meet new challenges in the year ahead.

To learn more about how medical device teams are implementing virtual engagement strategies in 2021 and beyond, download our 2021 Medical Device Virtual Engagement Field Guide.

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