As the largest integrated medical practice in the world with almost 3,000 physicians and scientists employed in almost every medical specialty, officials at the Mayo Clinic decided to develop some of the same medical devices usually licensed to other companies. This was a departure from normal policy for the Rochester, Minn.-based clinic, which sells devices designed by its researchers to other companies to bring to market. Mayo researchers realized in 2003 that, with the clinic's strengths in radiology, they could develop a better product than any other company, the clinic said.
The clinic determined that everything it needed for each stage of development was under one roof, with the exception of manufacturing, which it could outsource to IBM.
The product development venture began in 2003. The clinic's first device -- an MRI coil for imaging the wrist -- was fully developed in 2004. The Mayo Clinic sold the product to a number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Siemens and GE. The medical equipment giants, in turn, sell the coils to hospitals and clinics. The venture worked out for Mayo. Besides selling more than 100 coils, adding dollars to its research and development sector, the device was of such high quality that the rate of returned devices has been "zero."
Usually, roughly 20 percent of devices are returned, Steve Van Nurden, Mayo's director of technology commercialization, told FDAnews. "We choose products [to develop] that are 'best in class' -- ones we would want to have the Mayo Clinic's name associated with," he said.