Embracing the “Minimum Viable Product”

Orthopedic companies possess a unique blind spot that sets them apart from their counterparts in the software industry. In this article, we’ll explore how orthopedic companies can draw inspiration from software companies and adopt a crucial lesson: the concept of the “minimum viable product” (MVP).

Understanding the MVP

In the world of software development, the term “minimum viable product” (MVP) has gained significant prominence. Coined during the DotCom era, an MVP represents the initial version of a product that is just functional enough to serve its purpose. This concept allows software companies to gather maximum insights into customer experiences with minimal effort. It’s important to note that an MVP is far from perfect; in fact, it often starts as a rough prototype.

Entrepreneur Reid Hoffman goes as far as suggesting that you should feel embarrassed by your first product release used in the field. If you’re not embarrassed, you’ve likely released it too late. Successful startups in the software realm rush to put their MVPs in the hands of a select group of early customers, typically friends and family. This early feedback becomes the catalyst for rapid redesign and iteration, leading to the development of version 2.0. The final product launch is still a distant goal during this phase, and most customers are unaware of the early MVP.

Why the MVP Approach Works

Perfectionism can be the death knell for startups. Striving for the best can lead to stagnation, while aiming for better is often good enough. The MVP philosophy acknowledges that no company gets it right on the first try, with a success rate of less than 5%. Software companies understand this reality, but orthopedic companies, unfortunately, often do not.

Orthopedic Companies’ Blind Spot

Many orthopedic device companies place immense pressure on their engineering teams to achieve perfection. They follow a rigid process that involves freezing the design, seeking regulatory approval, and then pushing for a product launch. This approach assumes that their internal procedures and experts can create a flawless product in a single iteration. However, innovation rarely conforms to such linear thinking, and this is where the blind spot lies for orthopedics.

Learning from Orthopedic Innovation Success Stories

Examining the success stories in orthopedic innovation, such as Danek, SpineTech, Kyphon, Arthrex, MAKO, Hand Innovations, and Mazor, reveals a crucial truth—they embraced the MVP concept. In each case, their initial MVP products were far from perfect. These companies underwent numerous iterations, continuously improving their product designs on their journey to success.

Practical Implementation

Orthopedic startups that have embraced the MVP philosophy have seen remarkable results. One such startup swiftly progressed to the MVP stage by conducting cadaver lab evaluations every six weeks. After about ten iterations, they deemed their product prototype ready for the MVP phase. Subsequently, they ventured into clinical trials in a remote location, prioritizing usability and outcomes feedback over regulatory clearances and market launches.

Embracing MVP for Better Product Launches

Embracing the MVP feedback process can significantly enhance the quality of orthopedic products. The key takeaway here is that by adopting an MVP strategy, orthopedic companies can learn, iterate, and ultimately launch better products. If you’re interested in implementing an MVP strategy at your orthopedic company, we can provide guidance to get you started on this transformative journey.