The HTBC initiative of the EPO organized on Tuesday 13th September a seminar on “Software and patents in medtech: boosting your growth as SME”. It was designed as an event with expert keynots, case study presentations and discussions on the role of IP in the digital transformation of the medical industry. The full time table of the seminar can be accessed here.

An especially interesting case study discussed the digital transformation and business model transformation for magnetic resonance imaging manufacturers. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that is able to create images of organs such as the brain, heart, liver arteries and more. MRI is widely used in hospitals and clinics because it is able to generate compared to other techniques better contrast images of soft-tissues. The high demand of MRI scans in hospitals can be satisfied by MedTech companies in various ways and with different business models. Two examples are the transaction-based business model and the “as a service” business model.

In the transaction-based business model the MRI device is directly bought by the hospital or clinic. This means, that there are only one-time interactions between the hospital and the MRI manufacturer. To create more sales and with it income the manufacturer therefore constantly needs to search for new hospitals that buy new products. In this business model the main customer group are big healthcare providers with big budgets, who operate the devices 24/7. They can afford to buy a premium device, which outperforms the competition. For the IP strategy follows, that the manufacturer wants to protect the critical features to generate more sales with premium prices. An example patent is: EP3404436B1

In the “as a service” business model the MRI device and additional service software are not bought by the hospital, but the hospital pays subscription fees for the use of the MRI and the subscribed services. The manufacturer still owns the physical system and can offer additional services, like maintenance or updates of the system. The target group in this business model  are healthcare providers with smaller budgets, e.g. radiology practices, which cannot invest in buying a new device, but can afford the monthly fee. The aim of the IP strategy is to protect the service infrastructure, e.g. for monitoring and performance features, to create a lasting relationship with the customer by lock-in-effects. An example patent is: EP3066596B1

Here are the presentation slides to this case study: