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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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BACKGROUND

Despite being stuck in the chasm; wearables are not a new technology. The first computer wearable appeared in the 1970s. However, despite its long life in society, wearable devices such as fitbits, smartwatches, and google glass have consistently failed to cross the chasm. Consumers have become accustomed to the whole product provided by today’s smartphones. Many do not see the need to add another, less convenient device to their person. Why check text messages on a tiny smartwatch screen when the comfort and familiarity of the iPhone is residing in your pants pocket? Not to mention many of these wearables are not stand alone devices and require connection to a smartphone in order to function correctly.

Obsolescence and connectivity requirements are not the only issues with wearable technology available today. Many of these devices are overly expensive, need to be charged at least once per day, and aren’t fashion conscious.

Despite the relative lack of adoption by mainstream consumers, research and development firms continued to advance the technology in the wearables field even further. Over time, implantable sensors emerged as the next potentially disruptive technology.  Wearable technology is anticipated to grow very rapidly through the year 2020. Once a true whole product is created, it is likely there will be a tornado event in the wearables sector.

As wearables cross the chasm and are adopted by mainstream consumers the door will begin to open for implantable products can be developed and marketed effectively.

Implantable sensors are becoming more functional and applicable as technology advances. We have already developed implantable sensors that can monitor blood pressure and blood glucose, while our research and development team are working on other sensors that can be embedded in the brain in order to help those who are paralyzed control devices with their thoughts. Our current FDA approved smartpills are digestible, and our cutting edge miniature cameras can be swallowed in order to take pictures of the digestive tract and help doctors determine best methods of treatment. \\

As a society, we are becoming more and more conscious of our own health. More and more people are comfortable sharing health information digitally and becoming a “connected patient.” Increased life span is a hot topic on many social media news boards.

Our device, the GuardianX, will build upon our existing blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring implantable device. It will include a heart rate monitor and be able to perform a full CBC (complete blood count and platelettes), kidney profile, liver panel, and CRP blood test. The data from the sensor within the body will auto link to an individual’s smartphone (in the beginning) which will be linked to their EMR with the ability to be updated wirelessly.

We envision that younger, healthy individuals will be able to use this device in order to track their calorie consumption and expenditure, people with chronic diseases will be able to monitor themselves more effectively to reduce hospital readmissions, pregnant women will have constant fetal monitoring and older individuals will be able to live independently for longer through digital communication and accurate health info from the implant.

What can we do to avoid falling into the same chasm as wearable technology?

 TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION STATUS

A device can be considered implantable after it is placed into the human body with the intent of remaining in the body to perform some function after a medical procedure. The purpose of these devices is to help patients achieve longer lives with much higher quality experiences. The first implantable procedure was performed in 1958 in Sweden. A pacemaker was implanted that lasted for three hours, they then implanted another which lasted for several days. There were many technological issues that produced extreme challenges for implantable devices.

Some of the main issues facing these devices were the rudimentary batteries available, large size of components, connectivity, communication of data, corrosion and longevity. With the advancements in engineering and the explosive proliferation of science and technology, many implantable devices are available today. This includes not only pacemakers, but also cochlear implants and blood pressure monitoring systems. These developments are enhancing the lives of individuals and improving the technology in this field as a whole.

The chart below shows how the pacemaker marketplace has been consistently dominated by Medtronic since 2010 when the pacemaker became a standard foundation in the medical community.

However, the idea that the everyday consumer with few health concerns could be constantly monitored for health issues has barely scratched the surface. The closest market is the wearables market which has made it close to the end of the early adopter’s stage but has not completely crossed the chasm. Implantable devices are just beginning to proliferate in the Innovators section of the TALC. These adopters are willing to take risks, like those who receive pacemakers. The idea of using a machine to assist a human heart was once considered strange and unnatural, but now many medical professionals implant pacemakers as a routine procedure and helps save lives.

Although some of the groundwork for implantables to enter the marketplace has already been done through existing devices, it is important to understand that the development and use of these technologies does not place our device further along the TALC. We are currently beginning in the innovators stage for many reasons.

Limited market implementation: Although implantable devices such as the pacemaker have become routine in medicine. Only individuals with specific conditions are eligible for this type of procedure. The same applies for cochlear implants and blood pressure monitors implanted in the body. Typically, implantable devices are only used to treat very specific medical conditions.

Necessary risk tolerance: People who have received implants in the past have a high risk tolerance due to existing health issues. They are more likely to be open to surgery. Our new device, the GuardianX will be implemented in these group first to monitor chronic conditions. Also, despite various research rounds and testing, we have not been able to study the long term effects and life of the implantable device.  

Financial resources: Our first product is relatively expensive for the average consumer. At $1299 per implant plus $499 for the wireless charging device, we will rely on our FDA approvals and insurance providers to cover the cost of these first round devices. Preventative medicine is an asset for insurance agencies as it saves them money in the long term.

Pilot Project: We currently have 5 research hospitals signed and adopting our device as a pilot project. No one has yet shown interest in paying full price for the device. Various insurance companies have expressed interest in covering the product, at least in part, once it has been proven to prevent and detect health issues. Doctors are excited by the prospect of such advanced monitoring but are imposing very high standards for use.

Lack of Public Awareness/Adoption: Although wearable technology and the ability to track your health stats and communicate remotely with your doctor are available to society, it is not fully accepted yet. Wearables will be essential in helping our product cross the chasm into widespread adoption. In addition, despite the advancements in implantable technology, most consumers are not aware of the latest devices or their abilities. This information remains pertinent only to those with the conditions the device addresses.

Undeveloped whole product: Although various embodiments of the invention are envisioned our preferred embodiment is not yet available. GuardianX has overcome many of the issues previously seen with wearable devices, such as wireless battery charging, but many issues are still being tackled in development.  We have developed an application for smartphones and computers, it is widely directed toward providers and not toward the general public. The terminology used is very advanced and functionality can be somewhat “bug” ridden. Automatic uploads are not yet possible and the device will not store data when out of range of wifi. Instantaneous health status is the only option provided at this point.

No existing market leader: The idea of an implantable as a whole health monitoring product has not yet been accepted by the main public. The average person interested in fitness and health that engages technology for tracking may use a calorie counting app, a step tracker, a heartrate monitor, and a third party expert (doctor, online research, etc.) to analyze the results. An implantable device that does all of these things has not yet been developed. However, Medtronic does have a few more implantables in development and their strong brand may help them become a gorilla in our segment. However, through our topical sensors and existing blood pressure and blood glucose implantables, we are securing partnerships and developing a positive image which will help us launch our new product.   

Although our product will be discontinuous and start near the beginning of the TALC with our strong marketing plan we will be able to cross the chasm and provide a whole solution to health tracking and monitoring unlike our competitors who only provide specific pieces.

OUR DISCONTINUITY – CROSSING THE CHASM

With the GuardianX we will be giving rise to an entirely new product and creating an entirely new market. It will change the way people receive their health data. No longer will individuals go into the doctor to have their blood tests run, chronic illness readmission will reduce, fitness and health tracking will be a one-stop solution, and multiple markets will be effected.

We must be aware of our current position in the market as the “first-mover” so we can avoid the disadvantages associated with it. Over the long haul research has shown that early movers are often much less profitable than those who enter the market as followers. Our disruptive technology may have a slow adoption curve allowing our competitors to analyze our mistakes or shortcomings and create a whole product faster than we are able.  

We need to maintain a competitive advantage using a well-planned positioning strategy. To do this we must keep our costs low and truly listen to the needs of our customers as we enter the bowling alley.  There are a few strategy points we should keep in mind as we move through the TALC:

• Keep our costs low: When the time to ride the tornado comes we must be able to afford the production costs associated with the increased demand. As much as possible we need to encourage our existing suppliers to sign contracts that are beneficial long term. For example, we may want to consider a long term deal with a major supplier we know will be able to meet demand. We should also capitalize on partnerships with insurance companies that will provide funding to providers and consumers as the product takes off, thus increasing sales figures.

• Combining Functionality: As a company we should take advantage of the technologies that other companies have already developed. For example the most popular calorie tracking app, my fitness pal, has already developed a huge database of foods and meals the consumer can choose from. We could partner with MyFitnessPal to develop our calorie tracking and blood sugar tracking aspects while MyFitnessPal would gain an automatic way for people to upload their data rather than constantly searching and typing in their calories.

• Competitive displacement: We should also be able to displace some of our more dangerous competitors in the fitness wearables industry just as fitbit and jawbone. These companies will likely not consider us any type of competition during our early stage focus on chronic illness and health tracking. We should strategically keep our fitness plans and functionality restricted to a “need to know” basis until an appropriately timed announcement can be made.

• Price: Consumers are typically accustomed to paying between $70-200 on a wearable fitness device to track their health. This is for a product that must be removed and charged and has a very limited functionality (often only steps take or steps plus heartrate). Since our product can be charged wirelessly and will be able to offer those same features and more, it is likely people will be interested in paying more for our alternative in the long run and we will command the pricing point and receive the highest profit as the Gorilla. However, we should be aware that there is a large market segment that may wish to adopt the technology but cannot afford to do so. Affordable versions and insurance coverage will be essential in these situations.

As we move away from the support we have garnered with providers and insurance agencies we need to prepare for the skepticism that will come from the mainstream consumer. While a focused on developing the product features while in pilot phases, we must now focus on market features.

POSITIONING

In this marketing and positioning plan we will define a strategy plan for three different “pins” in the bowling alley. Positioning is a dynamic process and not something we will be able to define completely at the start. We must also consider feedback and improvements suggested by our customers.  The three starting pins will likely be pursued in the order presented as achieving critical mass in the first segment will lead to easier adoption in the following two segments. Our beachhead market will be individuals with diabetes followed by other chronic conditions. With the increasing diabetes epidemic due to the addition of sugar in our foods, doctors and insurance agencies are looking for ways to reduce costs and decrease readmission while consumers may be interested in a product that will be least disruptive to their daily lives. The analogous product alternative in this case is the typical blood drawing blood glucose test.  Also, with the high regulations imposed in the healthcare industry, the device will be more trusted to be secure.  

It is important to note, that daily blood glucose testing is accurate and effective, some individuals may not feel a desire to transition and we should be ready to address that issue with our improved value proposition. Also, diabetes is prevalent throughout all of society thus making it easier to penetrate other market segments.

• For people with diabetes who are dissatisfied with the daily maintenance required to report and analyze blood glucose, our product is an all-in-one blood testing device that provides high accuracy information without intrusive testing procedures. Unlike standard testing machines which measure blood glucose through pricking the skin, our product provides the ability to measure blood glucose instantaneously through an ap on the users phone.

• For people with multiple chronic conditions who are dissatisfied with the amount of time and effort needed to gather health information through multiple devices, our product is an all in one solution that provides the ability to receive data points without multiple tests. Unlike the specialized testing devices that often require a trip to the doctors office, our product provides the ability to accurately measure and send health data from wherever the user is located.

Depending on how far wearables make it in the TALC before we reach the bowling alley, we should avoid entering the fitness market and competing directly with the Gorilla before we are ready. We can continue to add aplications for fitness and market those to existing users from the chronic conditions segment.

• For overweight individuals who are dissatisfied with the limitations associated with standardized body metrics, our product is an advanced, personalized device that provides an accurate fitness and calorie measurement system. Unlike myfitness pal and other tracking devices, our product provides the ability to accurately measure calorie intake and expenditure without consumers recording exactly what they ate.

Our strategy is focused on the healthcare industry for chronic conditions first, in hopes that we can develop a superior product before entering the fitness tracking industry which is dominated by several very large players.

Target Segment

Reason to Buy

Whole Product Needs

People with Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most intrusive chronic conditions that affects daily life. Multiple daily blood tests and shots are a hassle for many people, thus making them more open to a whole product that is less intrusive. The cost could also be covered by insurance.

Would need to be covered by insurance, must be accurate, must be very low maintenance and low risk, compatibility with existing EMR,  compatibility with multiple devices.

Multiple Chronic Conditions

Keeping track of multiple chronic conditions with multiple testing devices can be very time consuming. Self-administered tests may not be fully accurate.

Would need to be covered by insurance, must be accurate, must be very low maintenance and low risk, compatibility with existing EMR, compatibility with multiple devices.

Overweight individuals

Doctors often ask individuals to count calories. Less effort for maintenance will lessen the paradigm shift already being caused by the change in lifestyle.  

accurate for different, ages, genders, body types, weights, and fitness levels, require minimal input by the user, data must be accessible and trackable by the user.

Getting to Pragmatists

Moore states that it’s important to focus on the economic buyer and emphasize the return on investment as the compelling reason to buy. We need to be realistic about our consumers’ willingness to pay more as price is going to be a huge barrier to adoption. Also, it is essential that we have developed a very high standard and a lot of recommendations and partnerships from other well-known companies we choose to partner with along the way.

Compelling reasons to buy:

• Market share – by the time we reach the pragmatists we should have an exceptional market share of the chronic conditions sector and be one of the leading implant manufacturers in the country.

• Third party support – Our partnership with MyFitnessPal and various insurance agencies will help ease the transition for many consumers. We will also be compatible with an array of mobile and computer devices. Our integration of data sets from various third parties such as the American Diabetes Association, MyFitnessPal, and Wireless/Cellular networks will help us penetrate the pragmatists.

• Standards certification – by the time we reach the pragmatists we will have FDA approval and be HIPPA compliant. Our thorough testing in the chronic conditions beachhead and endorsement by various doctors will build trust in the product.

• Application proliferation – the device will be extremely small and easy to insert so doctors will be able to perform the procedure during standard visits. It’s widespread preventative abilities, compatibility and ease of use will allow it to spread quickly.

• Vertical press coverage – the GuardianX will proliferate throughout diabetes, chronic conditions and obesity forums long before it hits the mainstream. Also, the proliferation of diabetes throughout all demographics will help many different sectors become accustomed to the technology.

• Industry analyst endorsements – support from trusted doctors, friends and media will help the product be accepted by pragmatist buyers

IN THE TORNADO

Securing the Gorilla

Our high compliance with healthcare regulations and endorsements from customers as well as third party references will carry us into the tornado. Once there, we must switch our strategy away from customization and make sure we can fulfill the needs of the market. It is important at this stage to make sure we are able to meet falling price points imposed by our competitors. We must aggressively attack our competitors in order to maintain our position of strength.

Because our product is extremely disruptive, as long as we do not announce our device to the mainstream consumer too far in advance, we should be able to command a much better product from a specification standpoint. We must be careful not to make our whole product too inundated with expensive features. Our competitors are going to try drive the price down in the tornado, it is essential we command the ability to set price. We want

Distribution channels are extremely important in attacking our competition. In the beginning we should adopt a direct sales channel to providers in order to create a demand. This will help us develop and explain the benefits of the product to those consumers in our beachhead. Our beachhead consumers, people with diabetes, will be recommended the product through their provider who will also place the device in the body.

However, we need to expand our distribution channels once we reach the tornado because providers will likely not be able to fill the demand created by the tornado. Moore teaches that if you enter the tornado and cannot distribute to the consumers they will begin to look elsewhere to fill the need. In order to maintain our position as the gorilla we absolutely must find a way to distribute these products without a provider’s involvement. We need to research potential demand fulfillers. Subdermal implants have been installed by body piercing artists since the early 90s. It may be worthwhile to look into a credential program similar to those taken by body piercers, augmenters, and tattoo artists. Requiring healthy consumers to go to their doctor to receive the implant will not successfully fill the demand created by the tornado.

 Moore, G. (2004). Inside the Tornado (p. 83).

 Moore, G. (2004). Inside the Tornado (p. 78).

 Moore, G. (2004). Inside the Tornado (p. 84).

On Main Street

After the tornado we are going to switch back to our original strategy of +1 customization in order to continue to entice buyers to purchase the product. It is important that our device not need to be replaced every single time there is an update. We should be able to develop a product that can be wirelessly updated through software in order to limit the strain on consumers to purchase a new +1 product offering. This can help us overturn the low cost alternatives our competitors are going to put in market. By allowing for inexpensive, easy updates to existing implants will increase our income (less expensive to implement) and decrease customer dissatisfaction. It is reasonable to think consumers will not want to have a new procedure every time a new feature is added.

In addition, we need to develop and add on new features that can target new niches and set us apart in the eyes of the consumer.

Existing features entering main street:

• Ability to run multiple blood tests though only a few are available

• Blood sugar

• Blood pressure

• Blood alcohol content

• Heart rate

• White/red blood cell count

• Calories/nutrition

• Small

• Easy to implant

• Wireless charging and wifi connectivity

• EMR Compatibility

New features to be added on main street:

• Additional blood tests

• Liver panel

• Kidney profile

• CRP

• Fetal Monitoring

• Infection detection

• Virus detection

• Cancer detection

• Remote updates

• Wireless charging and cellular connectivity

• Improved mobile app

• EMR Compatibility

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, our product has a long journey ahead of it to cross the chasm, enter the tornado and survive on main street. We are attempting to create an entirely new market for implantable devices. Although we can utilize technology advancements in other areas such as wearable devices, smaller mechanical parts, wireless charging, and third party research, it is important to understand that we cannot rely alone on the amazing technology we have created.

We must analyze the marketplace, identify competitors, aggressively attack our beachhead, customize, distribute, keep prices low in the tornado, and then customize again on main street. Not too much eh?

However, if we can carve our path through the market effectively we will take the gorilla share of a market that could have worldwide implementation in many different areas.

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