The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

1997 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

Clinical Products Development and Marketing

Patrick J. Dunne, MEd, RRT, Sunday, December 7, 1997.

The addition of a new product line or expansion of an existing service represents one of the most challenging undertakings for providers of home respiratory care. Inadequate or incomplete planning could translate to a major loss of revenue, a damaged reputation, and undermine staff morale and enthusiasm. It is therefore essential that considerable effort be devoted beforehand to reduce the likelihood of less than optimum results.

A good place to start the product development planning process is to determine the receptivity of the local health care providers (e.g. "the community of interest") to the proposed addition or expansion. Special attention must be paid to identifying those providers who will be most significantly impacted by the addition. The views, attitudes, and perceptions of such "external customers" must be thoroughly understood and all expressed concerns (whether real of imagined) must likewise be addressed beforehand.

One recommended strategy is to consider new product lines or service expansions which directly relate to an under served or unmet need. Developing new programs in this manner is much more likely to engender "buy-in" by the communities of interest. Regrettably, the more common approach is for manufacturers and home respiratory care providers to make such decisions on a unilateral basis.

Once a determination has been made that a new program is indeed a viable option, it will be important to carefully monitor the initial short-term results. While some would argue the merits of delaying formal evaluation until a reasonable amount of time has elapsed, experience has repeatedly confirmed that the on-going monitoring of results from the outset offers more assurances against the development of unintended consequences. Obviously, the more radical the new product line or service expansion, the more intense post-implementation monitoring should be.

The intensely competitive environment which has resulted from market-driven health care reform affords little room for mistakes in judgment when it comes to modifying a company's scope of services. Proper preplanning will greatly reduce the risk while considerably enhancing the possibilities of a successful launch of a new program.

AARC 50th Anniversary, December 6 - 9, 1997, New Orleans, Louisiana.

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