This weeks inventor interview is a little different as Evan Krachman invented his product MD2GO a remote HD camera for physician to patient and physician to physician communication, as an employee of Sony Medical USA.
Tara: What is your name, invention name and website URL?
Evan: Evan Krachman, Marketing Manager and New Business Development Manager, Sony Medical Division, Professional Solutions of America
My invention is the MD2GO ™ Remote HD IP Camera System.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Evan: I’m currently an employee of Sony Medical USA, based in Park Ridge, New Jersey, where my current invention was born. However ideas instrumental to my current invention and my passion for inventing began much earlier. With now nearly 15 years of experience in the medical device industry, I started my professional career as a commercial TV producer for a small cable company in NJ. This position led to various sales positions with Ampex Broadcast, Nikon and Mitsubishi where I gained valuable experience that became important of the invention. After 12 years in sales, I realized I wanted to be in marketing, which got me to where I am today, working for Sony’s medical group since 2000.
I first started inventing when I was 12 years old. I built an intercom system from an old tape recorder which enabled me to communicate from my bedroom to the family den at our home in Pennsylvania. I have been using video equipment since 1976, first with a Sony Black and White Reel-to-Reel recorder. In 1977 I developed a system for my father who was an Optometrist, to record patients trying on glasses and then play back the video with their glasses on so they could clearly see which eye glass frame looked the best. It was a novel idea before it’s time.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your invention, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?
Evan: The MD2GO is a remote IP High Definition camera system that enables modern physician-to-patient and physician-to-physician communication. With this innovative telemedicine solution, physicians can simply use a laptop PC and communicate with the patient or nurse over the internet, from virtually anywhere in the world. The MD2GO system is medical grade allowing it to enter critical areas of care areas like the Emergency room, operating room, or right up to the patient bed side; the applications are virtually unlimited. Thanks to its smart design and high quality, easy-to-use features, Sony’s MD2GO remote HD IP camera system is a cost effective system that is changing the delivery of healthcare for patients and physicians in healthcare facilities and individual practices in order to improve patient care.
I came up with this idea after a trade show on my own. We had mounted the camera on the top of our booth, and physicians were amazed at the quality of the camera and the potential it had for remote consultation. After the show I realized I needed a way to demonstrate the technology to physicians. I thought, what if I could put this camera on something as compact as an IV pole. It could then be easily transported into any room….MD2GO was born.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Evan: My first step was to start sketching my ideas on paper. I researched other traditional systems and wanted a design that was compact and easy to move. I choose components commercially available to complete the prototype system. I sourced the parts and a stand locally and went to Radio Shack many times to purchase wires and connectors. I built the prototype in my cubicle and borrowed a drill from the facilities department.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?
Evan: Once I built the first prototype, I created a presentation titled, “Remote Healthcare On Demand” which explained the various use cases for the device. As I continued developing the concept, the name MD2GO came to me. I knew that before we could make this a real product we had to seek out the the voice of the customer, the VOC as we refer to is in marketing, which is a key initiative followed at Sony when we bring any new product to market. Understanding the medical device market and understanding how your products help improve workflow are absolutely critical. There are so many risks, that in my opinion it makes no sense to spend time developing a product your potential customers don’t want or could ultimately find difficult to operate based on use in their environment and factors we might have been otherwise unaware of.
I manage the Sony Medical Luminary Program, which is designed to obtain feedback directly from physicians, this way we have a good understanding of what is needed to improve the product and patient workflow, so I knew right away where to go. Our first test of the MD2GO was at Northwestern University Fienberg School of Medicine located in Chicago. Frank Schleicher who heads the IT Surgery Department was a willing to test the unit. I also brought the unit to a local hospital by my home in NJ. The chief of surgery was encouraging and really wanted MD2GO to be used for surgical training and remote consultation. The early tests were very positive so we decided to go forward a make it a real Sony Medical product.
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Evan: We did approach our legal department and we found this design did not warrant a patent, but we felt that this design was still an excellent product. The name MD2GO is a registered trademark with Sony Electronics.
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Evan: We knew the fastest way to market was to do this project locally. We would have loved to have Sony manufacture this product in Japan, where corporate headquarters is located and the majority of products are manufactured, but this was something so far off the traditional product planning and design schedule we decided to build with a third party vendor.
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self-fund this?
Evan: I was working with Oasys Healthcare in Canada on another development project and mentioned I was building the MD2GO. They asked if they could build a prototype for us, and in less than three months they delivered a system and we went into production a few short months later.
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Evan: MD2GO is one of those “must see” products. We outfitted our sales people with demonstration gear and we built a dedicated MD2GO office in Park Ridge, designed like a physician’s home office so they could easily relate to the system. Now our sales people could use their own PCs and connect from anywhere with an internet connection and demonstrate the quality of our system live for the customer. In this case seeing is believing, and the live demonstrations helped us to validate the customer and gauge their interest. Then the real demonstration on site is the best way but not the most practical. We also built a new website and I was able to produce a video testimonial and short video’s to get the message across.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Evan: I believe the most difficult element in this project has been managing two different teams of hardware and software from a distance. As with any new invention, we ultimately had some kinks to work out and things to fine-tune during the production process to make the end product meet our standards and the needs of our customers. Sometimes the changes were simple to implement; other changes posed more of a challenge based on the budget and the technical constraints of the camera. The teams learned a great deal from our customers feedback on how to improve both hardware and software challenges.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Evan: The timeframe from the initial idea to actually having a working product delivered to the customer took only eight months.
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Evan: Everything in life, particularly in innovation, is also a learning experience that you can build on for the next time. When it comes to the MD2GO design process, there are a number of things that I would do differently. If I had the manpower and budget, I would re-design the software and hardware for the camera from the ground up specifically for Telemedicine applications. The nontraditional hardware design of MD2GO is disruptive compared to the technology currently being offered in the market. Customers were comparing this product to traditional video conferencing systems that cost thousands more. Their expectations were clear and many demanded a similar experience. I think we found a niche for surgical training that makes MD2GO a good tool that provides a high quality HD Image, one of Sony’s core competencies.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Evan: I think one of the most important aspects of inventing is communicating your idea clearly so other people can easily grasp your concept. A good presentation will help you move your project along internally with management or externally if you are going to present to a venture capital group. Also you shouldn’t rely on a Power Point presentation. If you can concisely explain orally how your invention works and how it solves a problem you will gain supporters. It’s also important to do your homework; identify the market potential and the business model you will use and how you can generate profits. A great invention without a good business model will ultimately fail.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you your invention?
Evan: Please go to: www. Sony.com/MD2GO
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