Omron Hits a Home Run in Personal Medical Devices
Earlier this year, the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show was held in Las Vegas. For the occasion, a Japanese business magazine interviewed the new president of Omron, a medical device company that manufactures home healthcare devices such as blood pressure monitors, body weight and composition meters, and others.
In the interview, president Mr. Isao Ogino described not only innovation in their new products displayed at the Las Vegas show but also advances in the company's core beliefs about customers and product development. For example, their traditional productdevelopment mindset has been focused on "we make xxx, yyy...," a common approach observed everywhere.
Under Mr. Ogino's new management directives, Omron developers have recognized that their devices are just tools, and that their mindset needs to shift to "why we should make the product" and "why we should not do..."
The company's product developers are now challenged to investigate from the customer's perspective. No longer are product features such as 'integrated,' 'compact,' 'easy to read,' and so forth sufficient. Now they must begin by asking how their product can help patients avoid adverse health events related to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, constricted breathing, and other conditions.
They named this new directives "Project Zero" (meaning driving down users' adverse health events to zero). To address this, they must now understand "true" customer needs.
Here is an example.
"I need to know when I have dramatic changes in my blood pressure throughout the day."
Product Function and Features:
- Blood pressure (BP) records are communicated to my doctor so they can prescribe the proper medications, dosage, and timing.
- BP monitor comfort for all day wearing, such as size, weight, balance, fastening, texture, etc.
- Integrates other BP related information such as pedometer, sleep monitor, calorie monitor, blood circulation, etc.
- Encourages gradual increases in safe activities.
- Usability for 50+ year olds, such as display size, alarm volume, etc.
From a QFD perspective, Omron's new thinking seems well under way to being compliant with the new ISO 16355-1:2015 standard. For example:
- QFD uses cross-functional teams. (ISO Clause 7.1.)
In the interview, Omron president cites marketing, R&D, and engineering are working together, not in their traditional roles.
- Project goals derive from business strategy. (ISO Clause 8.1.1.)
One of Omron's missions is to contribute to healthy life for every person on earth. Making this core belief internalized across all employees, their product development can produce a naturally unique purpose and direction as a medical device manufacture, in contrast with other wearable technology manufacturers.
- Marketing perspective and engineering perspective. (ISO Clause 8.2.3.)
Mr. Ogino emphasizes, "I do allow my team to research future trends and analyze what they conceive. If we do not clearly understand what we want to achieve with this specific product, we end up with equipping it with extra unneeded functions or getting into price war strategy."
- Translating voice of customer into customer needs. (ISO Clause 8.2.10.)
Customer needs are defined in QFD as being benefits the customer receives when their problems are solved, their opportunities are enabled...
Mr. Ogino emphasizes, "tens of thousands people end up with amputations every year because of high blood sugar. We make blood glucose meters to make such incidents zero. We make nebulizers with a conviction to cure asthma during childhood. I make sure in our company that no product planning takes place without first making clear why we should make the product, what is the ultimate goal."
- Technology deployment applicable tools and methods such as New Kano model. (ISO Clause 13.5.5 f)
Omron sales department identifies "customer expected quality" which allows them to continually change to what customers want.
The next stage for QFD and ISO compliance would be to address customer opportunities for exciting quality that go beyond zero negative events and looks for positive events such as:
- Alerts when is the best time to exercise
- Alerts when I need to have quiet resting time
- Alerts me when the air pollution level is likely to trigger an asthma attack
- Sends alarms and trends to my doctor, etc.
Several opportunities are coming up where you can learn how to best implement and comply with the new ISO 16355, and at the same time build competitive advantage with this new mindset and tools. Please visit the Calendar.
Introductory ISO 16355-1:2015 Lectures:
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