How Modsel innovates to keep one step ahead

4 minute(s) to read

The need to move quickly and keep up with market changes and emerging trends is more important than ever in our post-pandemic world.

New problems emerge and customer needs can change in the blink of an eye – which is why Modsel is going from strength to strength in the healthcare manufacturing sector.

The Queensland-based company specialises in patient transport by manufacturing a range of unique stretchers and procedure chairs that are now used in hospitals and day surgeries throughout the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Customer-led design has always been a hallmark of their business. But post-COVID, a new approach is creating a distinct competitive advantage – speed.

An initial idea can now be turned into a manufactured product and distributed to the market within months. It’s a far cry from the usual years-long process that most medical equipment companies are constrained by.

“We started this journey several years ago but in a way COVID has worked in our favour,” explains Modsel Director and Head of Innovation, Lester Rowland. “It drove a lot of internal focus because no one could travel easily. And so we began investing more time internally to strengthen our systems, structure and people, so we could be more advanced.”

Modsel has set up its own in-house design and fabrication hub and employ mechanical and CAD engineers as well as fabrication and prototyping specialists. The innovation process can now unfold extremely quickly without the need to outsource any aspect of it.

The company has invested heavily in digital technology and communications, so all design data is contained in one centralised system and their entire facility runs almost paperless from design through to fabrication and assembly. “We’re embracing technology but there will always be plenty of distance we can go to further improve.”

Lester says innovating effectively is not just about buying a piece of software or hiring the right people – it’s about implementing it correctly and upskilling all staff as you go.

A lot of your typical laborers and fabricators aren’t IT savvy, so we’ve had to roll out an ongoing training programme so they can get comfortable with it. They’re at the point now where they’re adopting and embracing that technology and wanting to utilise it even further.”

The company draws on its extensive network of re-sellers around the globe (such as Cubro), all of who have teams in the field, to gather feedback about what the market needs and what problems could be addressed.

“We’re working on development programmes now that are underpinned by feedback that lines up consistently across four or five distribution agencies who are all telling us the same thing. If you get one agency wanting something and all the rest saying they don’t care about it, we’re less likely to embrace it. But when you get a spread of specialist healthcare companies out there in the field, who each have a team all feeding back in… we’ve got our ears wide open to that.”

Feedback from healthcare professionals is also a key part of the innovation process, and is used to help refine and deliver Modsel’s entire range of products. Lester says design and prototyping is always focused on patient comfort, user safety, intuitive operation and production efficiency.

However, sometimes good ideas simply arise from old-fashioned in-house brainstorming. That process led to Modsel launching a game-changing product in 2022 – their Contour Recline E-Vertex procedure chair.

It is the world’s first fully electric procedure chair that eliminates the need for manual patient head positioning when performing eye, ENT, plastics or dental surgery. It can help avoid any unexpected movement or drop of the head position during procedures, and electric handsets allow a surgeon’s team to make smooth, accurate adjustments while a surgeon’s hands remain free, preventing cross contamination.

“It’s a unique product,” Lester confirms. “It’s an innovation that we did after we identified a gap in the market. No-one else had attempted to do it before and we felt sure we could make it happen. We went to the largest specialists straightaway and they very quickly embraced the concept and said, ‘brilliant idea’. So we developed and patented that system and launched it to the market within months. The product is being sold quite broadly and widely across several countries now with great success.”

Compressing your innovation process down to three to six months does require the right internal systems, methodology and communication channels to be in place to cope. Design, operations, fabrication, marketing and sales must all work in harmony.

“If I wind the clock back five years ago, it would have been very difficult to move development through that quick, because we just didn’t have the systems and structure to be able to cope with that,” Lester admits. “A lot goes on behind the scenes to actually bring your idea to reality. And to be able to make that a slick system is what we’re really focused on.”

To find out more about our range of Modsel procedure chairs and trolleys, please get in touch with our team.