Nîmes University Hospital in southern France launched its own medical device assessment center (IDIL) in 2016. The center recently organized a congress to discuss medical devices and how open innovation can further their development. We interviewed Thierry Chevalier, the doctor in charge of IDIL.
MedicalExpo e-Magazine: Why create a medical device evaluation unit? What does it offer you?
Dr Thierry Chevalier: The Medical Device Evaluation Institute (IDIL) is a new entity created in 2016 at Nimes University Hospital. It’s a research unit where expert clinicians can evaluate medical devices.
IDIL grew out of a simple observation: proper evaluation of medical devices must be developed from scratch. There are several reasons for this. The range of devices is enormous, from sterile compresses to artificial hearts. In addition, the surgeon’s expertise plays an important role. And we must carry out long-term evaluations—5, 10 or 20 years.
ME e-Magazine: What’s the biggest need for proper evaluation of medical devices?
Dr Thierry Chevalier: The right methods. There are few guidelines for medical devices. Structures like ours will contribute to creating an evaluation process.
ME e-Magazine: You stress long-term evaluation. What’s changed in this area, especially with the emergence of connected objects?
Dr Thierry Chevalier: In the context of medical device epidemiology, we follow defined cohorts over the long term. A continuous flow of data will greatly improve these studies. The ability to receive information from a connected object at any time will be essential. For example, there are teams working on RFID chips implanted in hip prostheses.
ME e-Magazine: During the congress, the open innovation concept was highlighted. Can you explain what that means and how it applies to medical devices?
Dr Thierry Chevalier: Innovation in medical devices means having the right idea at the right time, one that meets a unfulfilled therapeutic need. That requires using multiple technologies, materials, electronics, etc. It’s at the intersection of three worlds: patients, doctors and engineers.
Open innovation is the idea that anyone can be an inventor. Anyone can come up with ideas that “overly structured” people who spend their days in an R&D lab won’t have.
ME e-Magazine: Is there a standout example?
Dr Thierry Chevalier: Connected objects. Most of the inventors come from the IT engineering world and offer truly new solutions. Of course, that raises evaluation questions: How to ensure device reliability? How to guarantee security? We have to invent the evaluation methods.