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GEN Exclusives

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Jul 21, 2016

The New C-Suite for Medical Product Development

Matching Healthcare Solutions with Delivery Experience Expectations

The New C-Suite for Medical Product Development

C-Suite product developers engage in unique and intense collaborations in product development.

  • The delivery of innovative new medical products–be they drugs, devices, diagnostics, digital tools, medical foods, supplements, or systems–now needs to pass hurdles of excellence unlike any that have been imposed before. Technical efficacy, regulatory approval, reimbursement, clinician and patient acceptance now hinge on providing product features at more appealing levels, akin to those of the advanced consumer products that we use each day.

    Since the likes of Steve Jobs (Apple) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) have designed entirely new ways to define and deliver experiences, now healthcare solutions have to aim to match delivery experience expectations. As a result, a new “C-Suite” of product developers has emerged, the most visible feature of which is their intense collaboration in product development. As opposed to the commonly known C-Suite constituents such as chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer, et al., this group is composed of three related but subtly distinct skill sets, individually known as the commercial chief medical officer (cCMO), the chief marketing officer (CMO), and the chief experience officer (CXO). Working in unison, they have the collective capacity to bring medical products to the marketplace, maximizing chances for success.

  • The New C-Suite

    The cCMO provides combined business, medical, and regulatory judgment to product design, product development, clinical assessment, and medical product performance follow-up.

    The CMO oversees market research, the market interface, product launch and go-to-market strategies, product surveillance, product lifecycle management, and the business case for the product.

    The CXO oversees the curation of experience through human factors and design. From the look, feel, and function to the overall experience of medical products as perceived by all involved stakeholders be they patients, clinicians, payers, or purchasers.

    In recent years, the patient has more intensely become a customer (or consumer) of goods and services in medicine. Each expects drugs, devices, diagnostics, digital applications, medical foods, supplements, and processes to function far more effectively, safely–and effectively and safely together–than in the past. Underscoring this point in the U.S., patient (consumer) satisfaction scores are now part of the constellation of quality metrics impacting providers’ reimbursement.

    Regulatory and reimbursement agencies reflect this new consumer attitude that has been augmented to a great degree by internet access to medical information and direct to consumer marketing (in the U.S.).  It is now incumbent on the medical product developer to ensure that products are not only created within regulatory guidelines but also meet high level needs at the patient care interface–and are sufficiently valued to achieve reimbursement approval.

    Products must no longer simply work and be safe, they need to be accessible, appealing, and understandable to those receiving and administering them, fitting into their everyday lives, not jarring against expectations. In addition to improving the quality of care, new products also must meet increasingly stringent health economic hurdles to gain widespread adoption.

    This new reality calls for an elevated appreciation of human nature and financial reality. The new C-Suite addresses these issues in a unique, collaborative way that combines the elements of medical awareness, market penetration strategy, and customer use preferences as applied to product and process design.

    The following section, which describes the roles of the cCMO, CMO, and CXO as unique functions and skillsets, emphasizes how they work together in the new world of medical product development.

  • cCMO

    The cCMO is an M.D. who has had substantial exposure to clinical practice and, typically, the management of multiple biomedical businesses at a senior executive level. As such, the cCMO is capable of engaging in a relevant, credible and meaningful way not only with members of the medical profession but also with all team members within the commercial enterprise.
    While many of the functions of the cCMO are those required of the purely clinically experienced CMO, the clinical/scientific competencies are augmented by the unique ability to put each into the proper business context.

  • CMO

    The CMO lives at the intersection of product development, brand strategy and marketing plans, manufacturing, and distribution. The CMO is the “hub of many spokes,” providing cross-functional leadership that unites team members around a central strategy and direction that drives optimal product development and commercialization.

  • CXO

    The CXO is an experience modulator who takes in product, service, digital, brand, identity, and system all in one. The CXO is expected not only to identify/characterize the right product, but also to align a medical experience with a humanized output, which is understandable and translatable in real time, and with ease–and by all affected parties. In a consumer world, to deal with this increased complexity, we are seeing a shift from classical (“What do you think or prefer”) marketing toward the engagement of the CXO, whose responsibility is to curate and connect all elements of experience. Incorporating multichannel service touch points to customer delight, logistics to feedback success is measured on the holistic measures such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS) (likeliness to recommend a brand to a friend or colleague), all born of the digital revolution based on the granular elements of end-to-end experience. However, this should not be seen as being too different from great healthcare design. Our expectations of the delivery of a stress free, in control, seamless, socially engaging, and emotionally effective care process is the basis of patient satisfaction and elements critical to improved outcomes.

    Alongside safety (and of course treatment efficacy), these key performance indicators are deeply entrenched into the expectations of success in healthcare performance.

  • Investing Wisely: The Value Proposition

    Buying wisely into a modern development process requires the engagement of a new, collaborative C-Suite that functions above and beyond the technology, engineering, and IP functions of an organization. By employing the nexus including a cCMO, CMO, and CXO, we believe that one can benefit from steerage and precision guidance toward product adherence and acceptance. This reduces the chance of product rejection, encourages excellence rather than mediocrity, and potentially compliance vs. non-compliance.

    To achieve this high value, the cCMO, CMO, and CXO engage in vital collaboration that includes frequency of contact, complete visibility in planning, and highly refined communication within and outside the triumvirate. While requiring considerable effort to achieve such a union, when optimized, it derisks product development and has the great potential to support serendipitous innovation.


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