MRgFUS: ON ITS WAY TO CROSSING THE CHASM INTO BECOMING A MAINSTREAM THERAPY
NOTE: This blog post summarizes a lecture given at ISTU 2016, by Kobi Vortman, PhD., INSIGHTEC’s Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board. The video of the full lecture can be found at the bottom of the post.
Think about the meaning of embryo freezing technologies and what they meant to fertility treatments. Think about transplant technologies and the many lives they saved. Think about imaging technologies and their crucial role in diagnostic medicine. Think about performing surgical procedures without puncturing skin or using a knife – this is the remarkable concept behind INSIGHTEC‘s MRgFUS technology. As such, INSIGHTEC has a very clear mission: Prove that MRgFUS can improve the current standard of healthcare and patients’ quality of life while minimizing trauma and morbidity, while accelerating recovery and saving costs for the healthcare system at large.
For the INSIGHTEC team who realizes this great potential, there is a strong correlation between developing our technology for the benefits of patients and building a thriving business. Both require significant market adoption, and while we have proved MRgFUS to be a safe and effective treatment, we are still working towards our goal of turning MRgFUS into a mainstream treatment option for the various indications it was designed to treat.
MRgFUS is a therapy platform that displaces established medical paradigms. It’s disruptive in its nature. On paper, this sounds fantastic, but from a business perspective - can MRgFUS become a commercial success?
The graph below shows the pattern of new technologies and market adoption. The blue arrow indicates where MRgFUS is today, and the gap we have to cross in order to reach wider market adoption.
Disruptive technologies adoption lifecycle
Although challenging, there is a path for disruptive technologies into the mainstream. Clayton Christensen from Harvard Business School has identified a model where disruptive technologies penetrate main markets through niche segments that use unique attributes of the disruptive technology in a unique way. The selected niche segments are usually ones that are off the radar of existing market leaders. As such, their needs are often overlooked and remain unmet, making it a perfect entry point for disruptive technologies.
In order to “create our market” we looked at the performance of MRgFUS, and identified unique and/or superior attributes:
▪ Real-time feedback for monitoring and treatment parameter adjustments
▪ Highly conformal therapy (minimal to no collateral damage)
▪ Minimal side effects
▪ Fast recovery – return to normal activities within days
The question is who can utilize these attributes best, or which segment in the marketplace has unmet needs? The Patients. And here’s why.
Market creation – carving out our niche markets
Market creation starts with innovators that introduce new ideas (possibly disruptive) that are then embraced by early adopters. If innovation induces a significant change in the existing value chain, it’s critical to have a change engine to catalyze the process and set new trends. Change engines are players with a significant role in the ecosystem which can accelerate or inhibit the process of market adoption. In our case, these are physicians and/or patients.
Clinical research = A preliminary market test
Every clinical trial starts with Primary Investigators and patient recruitment which may serve technology developers as a litmus paper to gauge market potential. Patient recruitment rates for trials heavily depend on physician acceptance, as they are the ones tasked with convincing patients to take part in the trial. From INSIGHTEC’s experience over the years, we’ve noticed that clinical trials that easily recruit patients are the ones that later on develop into more prominent clinical applications. However, clinical trials do not factor in the payors, and their openness to reimburse new technologies or lack of, as trials are financed by the medical device companies only. Payors may pose a significant impediment, or become a catalyst, as payment is the fuel running in the pipes.
INSIGHTEC believes patients and physicians are the change engine in the MRgFUS arena: Patients today can demand non-invasive treatments from their healthcare providers and insurance carriers. Physicians can help educate patients regarding their treatment options and support their efforts to get MRgFUS reimbursed by insurance providers.
INSIGHTEC truly believes that MRgFUS has the potential to help millions and improve healthcare, globally. For over 20 years we have been engaged in developing and improving our innovation in order to make treatment better. Evidence is accumulating and we are reaching the point where we cross the chasm and move from tens of thousands of treatments to millions of treatments. We are thoroughly convinced that our biggest allies in leaping forward and reaching the masses are patients and early adopter physicians. Moving the needle and turning MRgFUS into a standard of care will not only benefit patients and physicians, but also grow a new strong and viable medical business.