By Irene Wasilewski, Product Support Specialist
RIVA, a fully automated IV compounding system, is used by hospital pharmacies to automatically and accurately prepare IV syringes and bags. RIVA came into the market at a time when there were very few robots assisting in IV compounding. As with any new concept or technology, RIVA required the assistance of champions in the market place to help the technology grow, develop and mature. RIVA is continuing to move through the life cycle stages and to gain new champions in new markets.
The standard phases in a product’s life cycle are:
- The Ideation Phase – The product concept is developed. No sales at this time.
- The Introduction Phase - The product has been introduced first time in the market and the sales of the product starts to grow slowly and gradually. RIVA is currently in between the Introduction and Growth Phases.
- The Growth Phase – There is quick growth in the product sales as more new customers are using and trying and are becoming aware of the product.
- The Maturity Phase – Increased volume of the product in the market.
- The Decline Phase – The sales of the product has started to decline because of the deletion of the product from the market.
There are many pros and cons to being a champion of the product in each of its stages. The table below summarizes these as it pertains to RIVA’s experience.
|Ideation||· Able to provide input on fundamental methodology of product
· Can steer the design to be the perfect product for your needs
· Normally able to obtain a prototype for little or no money
|· Usually a long wait before there is a physical product to try/use
· Input is provided with hopes the product will meet your needs but may end up being different than envisioned
· Usually long implementation timelines.
|Introduction||· Recognition in journals and publications
· The benefit of having a product that fills a need in the pharmacy
· Ability to continue to shape product
· Products may be purchased at lower prices in a need for the company to seed the market
|· Beta testing usually involves dealing with bugs and fewer features.
· Lots of questions/tour requests from colleagues
· Have to develop policies and workflows, none to save-as from
|Growth||· Ability to continue to shape product in new directions, use it in new ways
· More stable product
· Colleagues are willing to share implementation lessons/plans so new ones don’t have to be created from scratch.
|· The product is already largely developed with fewer changes planned
· May be extremely well suited for a market different than your needs
· Price is established. Less negotiation room
|Maturity||· Product is most stable
· Product has a large number of features that work well
|· Fewer features/improvements being added|
|Decline||· Well established product.
· Easy to implement
· Easy to use
|· Probably no longer best practice, or expected to be replaced soon
· No more new features or growth
· Other models can do more
RIVA was born out of a concept that came from purchased intellectual property. The first vision had a conveyor belt to move consumables around instead of a robot arm. Pharmacists noted a robot arm would be a better choice for ease of cleaning, reduced particle generation and containment of lubricants.
The first 3 RIVA installations were all in children’s hospitals. Because of overwhelming feedback regarding the need for RIVA to make diluted doses, the intermediary bag feature was created. RIVA can make a bag of an exact volume with a defined concentration. Later, the bag may be reloaded back into RIVA to be used as a drug source for syringes. Building upon that concept, another option was added to the intermediary bag feature a few years ago. Now RIVA may also make intermediary bags of a defined concentration, but will do so by measuring the exact volume of diluent in each bag (including overfill) and adding enough drug to reach the desired concentration. This allowed pharmacies to make some of those diluted doses even faster.
RIVA continues to grow in established markets such as children’s hospitals but now it’s also growing among pharmacies compounding chemotherapy doses. In response to the needs for this market, ARxIUM is adding compatibility to a new closed system transfer device for bags.
RIVA is in an unusual position where most of the market outside of North America is far behind in compounding regulations and standards. Analogous to the leap from little phone service to smartphones in much of the world, many of those same markets are moving quickly towards state of the art pharmacies. New market demands will likely continue to drive growth for RIVA. Additional features that may have been less critical to early adopters may be develop to meet serious needs of the emerging markets. The new features may be less important to the North American market but will likely still provide benefit. For example, the need to provide non-English characters on the label has had the unexpected benefit of allowing English speaking pharmacies to add pictures or logos to their labels since the technology to add non-English characters coincides with the technology to add pictures.
RIVA is not yet in the decline phase. It is anticipated this will be a number of years in the future.
Becoming a champion for new technology like RIVA usually has a number of benefits that would suit most pharmacies. For those that like a challenge and want to steer the direction of their field, early adoption is probably a good match.