Successful Medical Device Development: Avoiding Common Mistakes

Medical Device Development

Interdisciplinary Team


Saves Time & Money

Brilliant ideas seem to come to every person at some point or another. Any human has a moment of difficulty or frustration during their day that causes them to think, “If only I had x that did y and z”. Notions such as these are responsible for any number of the technological advancements we use in our everyday life. “If only I had a way to travel without the limitations of animals” made way for the motor vehicle. “If only I could connect with all my peers” made way for Facebook.

What is it then, that separates the ‘lightbulbs’ everyone experiences from these widespread and profitable products? There are the obvious factors seen in most successful ventures including driven leadership, viable ideas, and base capital. However, another equally important but often overlooked facet is technical expertise. Humans marveled at the idea of flight for hundreds of years before the Wright brothers used their ingenuity and knowledge of bicycle mechanics to create the first airplane. It is not enough to simply have a great idea, you must have the ability to bring it to fruition.

According to an analysis of 101 failed startups by CB insights, 23% of the foundling businesses considered failed because they did not have the right team, making it the 3rd most common reason cited overall (1). It is nearly impossible for a person to be an expert in all aspects of device development. This is especially true for more complex projects, such those in the medical field.

As medical technology continues to expand and evolve, medical professionals and consumers demand more specialized and higher quality products. Any medical device requires an interdisciplinary team to adequately attend to all aspects of design and functionality. Rock West Solutions boasts a concentrated group of highly educated individuals with decades of experience. These professionals not only have the technical knowledge necessary for hardware development, but also the more practical industry knowledge necessary for actual project completion.

Bridging the Gap from Possibility to Prototype

Those who spend the majority of their time in the medical field (doctors, patients, nurses) are well aware of what innovations are needed, which inventions would make their lives easier. But knowledge of an innovation gap and the ability to fill that gap are rarely within the capabilities of a single individual or even a single group of individuals. It is in this situation that Rock West Solutions can be a useful partner. By collaborating with this group of highly skilled engineers on device development, new and aspiring companies can advance their product from idea to prototype quickly and efficiently.

These specialists do not simply complete the tasks given to them, but they do so with years of experiential wisdom. Lessons learned from hundreds of previous projects are applied to each new task. They are better equipped to anticipate problems and know what crucial elements should be prioritized over others. This experience is also valuable when hiring 3rd party organizations for fabrication and production. When it comes to specialized parts, especially elements with a minimal margin of error like circuit boards, not all subcontractors are created equal. Through past orders and projects, Rock West has established a network of reliable organizations that have repeatedly demonstrated their ability deliver quality products in a timely manner. Business relationships like these are crucial to effectively project and maintain development timelines.

Conserving the Most Valuable Capital: Time

The #2 reason CB Insights found for startups failure? Running out of cash (1). Medical devices inherently experience delays due to bureaucratic requirements from oversight organizations like the FDA, so it is vital to save as much time during development as possible. This saved time means more than just quickened progress, it also means saved money.

The variety and depth of Rock West team skillsets means more meaningful progress per dollar spent. Team members have worked in a variety of fields including electrical engineering, mathematics, chemistry, biomedical engineering, law, systems engineering, computer science, and mechanical engineering. A workforce with such a high density of technical specialists also means more efficient workflow.

In the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini estimate that annually $3 trillion in the American economy is spent paying managers for time wasted on unnecessary and unproductive activities (2). The small size of Rock West simply eliminates the activities that produce this ‘organizational drag’, including excessive emails and meetings. Two-thirds of Rock West employees are senior level scientists that hold doctoral degrees. In larger organizations persons with these qualifications would likely be in a position of oversight or management, but at Rock West they work on projects directly and can take decisive action quickly and confidently without having to wait for supervisor approval. Bringing a new product to market is a constant race against potential competitors. An edge in speed and efficiency early in device realization might mean an edge in future market share.

Rock West Solutions

Prior research and development work at Rock West includes products in a variety of fields, including medical. Past projects include software design and development, sensor development and signal processing (including radar, infrared, electrical and radiation sensors), system engineering and project management, as well as test planning and data analysis. Further information about specializations can be found at Recent experience in the development and optimization of a new medical device includes MoPill, an ingestible capsule for use in gastrointestinal mapping and monitoring. For more information see