Savvy physician takes walk on entrepreneurial side

September 1, 2004

Finally - and perhaps most crucial, says Dr. Goode - there is this question: Is there anything like the new device available? Because if there isn't, the new device could draw the attention of manufacturing or distributing companies.

Palo Alto, Calif. - Plenty of doctors say to themselves, "I had that idea years ago but didn't have the time or money to develop it." To which Richard Goode, M.D., responds, "Join the club."

Several years ago, Dr. Goode joined the "club" of physicians who, in fact, did find the time or money to develop devices of one sort or another that either help doctorsperform their job better or help patients improve their well-being.

The reason for the "maybe," says Dr. Goode, is that many doctors-turned-entrepreneurs fail to ask - let alone answer-a few basic questions, such as:

Finally - and perhaps most crucial, says Dr. Goode - there is this question: Is there anything like the new device available? Because if there isn't, the new device could draw the attention of manufacturing or distributing companies-or even spawn a new company dedicated to the production of the new device, if it's unique enough.

"The latter type of device - the MRI and CAT scan machines are examples - usually comes out of major research projects," says Dr. Goode.

While major research projects resulting in unique devices is the rule, Dr. Goode is an exception: He has invented about 15 devices that have been developed and marketed as new products for an existing company or become the basis for a new company altogether. His inventions include:

Dr. Goode says he took his septum-splint concept to a manufacturer, which produced it, distributed it, and pays him royalties.

The two hearing-improvement devices spawned new companies, which have since been sold. (The eardrum device was the basis for a company now called GN Resound, which has grown to become the second-largest hearing aid company in the world.)

Patent protection"In today’s world, you really need to protect yourself when you come up with a new device," says Dr. Goode.

"You should look into a patent for the device and get it patented if you can. This will protect you from having your idea stolen by others; also, patented devices normally earn more royalties from companies that manufacture and distribute them," he says.

Dr. Goode has some final words of advice that put the creation or improvement of a device into perspective for the typical practitioner.

"Not every new idea or invention ends up a success, but the process of taking an idea to reality is stimulating, challenging and educational," he says.

"The rewards are often not economic but may be more important - the feeling that we’ve done something to advance the field and help our patients."