What is the most interesting story you’ve helped your clients tell through a custom model?


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a customized model is worth a million. If all that was necessary to tell the story of your medical device was a general replica of what human anatomy looks like, then a two-dimensional sketch or illustration would do. However, medical practice is hands-on so medical procedure marketing and training are much better served with a hands-on experience.

This storytelling narrative is particularly relevant to medical salespeople and trainers because, without it, their product is just an unknown object. The story is the education, the teachable moment, the preparation for a new procedure. We are grateful to have the privilege of helping depict that story.

One of the many scenarios in which we helped our clients tell an interesting and important story involved an improved way to biopsy the pancreas for Olympus.

The Scenario

Olympus is best known as a camera company. Their main consumer products are cameras, camera lenses, and audio equipment. Perhaps not coincidentally, at the time of writing this, they have a large banner at the top of their website that says, “TELL YOUR STORY,” bold and all-caps.

This time, instead of Olympus helping customers tell their story, Pulse MDM helped Olympus tell their own story. In addition to their personal cameras, Olympus is a leader in medical scope technology (among other products in their medical division).

Olympus designed an instrument to use with their ultrasound endoscope for ultrasonically guided fine needle aspiration (FNA).

This instrument is called the EZ Shot 3 Plus, a single-use endoscopic ultrasound needle with advanced puncture-ability that enables tissue penetration from oblique angles, enhanced visibility that ensures accurate lesion targeting, and a flexible and resilient needle that provides unparalleled access to ensure a predictable trajectory, even after multiple passes.

Olympus came to Pulse with the challenge of demonstrating their improved approach to pancreas biopsies.



What’s Your Story?

Pulse worked with Olympus to understand the key differentiators of the EZ Shot 3 Plus. The purpose of the model would be for sales demonstration. It needed to not only demonstrate what the EZ Shot 3 Plus could do, but the ease and efficiency in which it could do it.

From there, Pulse designed a model that would simulate accessing a lesion from difficult endoscopic positions. The model needed to provide an environment that didn’t just prove that the EZ Shot 3 Plus could handle a routine scenario with ease, but rather a scenario that would typically cause surgeons significant difficulty. The model would create a “wow factor” and allow medical salespeople to immediately gain the attention and curiosity of surgeons and decision-makers of medical organizations.

We designed a replaceable lesion at the pancreatic head that would allow the surgeons who trained with the device and model to puncture the lesion and receive tactile feedback comparable to the feedback they experience with a real pancreatic lesion.  The model included a durable lesion that could be used indefinitely, as well as a removable cartridge that could be populated with a small tomato or grape for greater tactile accuracy.

To provide clinical context, a flat front panel with a printed translucent stomach and liver was positioned above the biliary tract and pancreas as it is in human anatomy.  The demo could be completed by looking through the translucent anatomy or removing the front plate to clearly see the needle penetrate the lesion.  Printing anatomy for context on a flat surface is significantly more economical than rendering them as three-dimensional objects and does just as good a job.

In addition to replicating a clinically relevant scenario, Pulse wondered how to reduce the awkward carrying of the cumbersome and expensive ultrasonic endoscope, which is required to demonstrate the procedure.

To address this challenge, Pulse recommended the inclusion of a replica of the last 12 inches of the ultrasound endoscope that could be pre-placed in the correct position to perform the needle biopsy. The scope replica needed to incorporate the moving “elevator” as the mechanism that the physician used to control the trajectory of the needle. Because the proximal end of the scope was removed, the elevator mechanism would be operated using a small thumb wheel at the corner of the model to correctly position the needle.

By using this strategy, we significantly improved the ease and cost of demonstration for the Olympus sales team.  The process no longer required the full cumbersome and expensive endoscope and could instead accomplish the same task with the endoscope replica, adding to the model’s durability, transportability, and repeatability, while maintaining the primary focus; that the EZ Shot 3 Plus could handle difficult biopsy scenarios easily.



How Did the Story End?

After the CAD data and prototype was approved and the models were produced in their final form, it was introduced to the field team.

Three hundred units were produced to provide every sales team member around the world with a way to demonstrate the EZ Shot 3 Plus. The compact design of the model provided numerous marketing opportunities for Olympus, as their device could just as easily be demonstrated in a hospital corridor as it could at a tradeshow or conference room. The model provided a way for each member of the sales team, regardless of where they were or who they were speaking with, to tell the same amazing story.

Instead of waiting to fly surgeons in to attend a lab, the model could travel with the salesperson directly to the surgeon and their team. The EZ Shot 3 Plus, and the story it told using this model, was an immediate success.

In fact, one of Olympus’s medical device team’s prospective clients was able to demonstrate the device for the value analysis committee of the hospital organization they were presenting to:

“One of our sales reps was using the new demo model to demonstrate our device to a prospective client. The physician liked how the model communicated the device’s value and unique capabilities so much that he actually took our device with the model to the hospital’s value analysis committee and demonstrated it for them. The committee approved our device and is working on replacing two devices that are currently in use at that facility with our product.” – Olympus Endosurgery Product Manager

This excerpt says it all. The model created the “wow factor” it sought to create and allowed Olympus the ability to portray their crucial product to its full extent. We provide the medium for the stories that will turn the page in medicine.