Medical Device Quality Management System: What Is It?

Written by: Derek Koziol

Read Time: 8 min

Medical devices are essential for improving the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. However, they pose significant risks if not designed, manufactured, and maintained according to the highest quality standards. That's why medical device quality management systems (QMS) are crucial for ensuring these products' safety, effectiveness, and performance within the medical device industry.

This blog will explain what a medical device QMS is, its importance, key benefits, essential requirements, and more. Let's get started.

What is a medical device quality management system (QMS)?

A medical device QMS is a set of policies, procedures, and processes used to plan, control, and improve the quality of all aspects of the medical device lifecycle, from design and development to production and distribution to post-market surveillance and feedback. A QMS covers the product, the people, equipment, materials, suppliers, customers, and environmental factors involved in creating and delivering the medical device.

Quality management systems are based on digital continuous improvement, which means the organization constantly monitors, measures, evaluates, and enhances its quality performance and customer satisfaction. It also follows the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle, a systematic approach to problem-solving and decision-making. This helps the organization to identify and prevent quality issues, correct them when they occur, and prevent them from recurring.

Why is a medical device QMS important?

A medical device QMS is essential for several reasons, such as:

  • Ensures that the medical device meets the customers' and end-users needs and expectations, often patients with critical health conditions.
  • Makes sure that the medical device complies with the applicable regulatory requirements and standards, which vary depending on the device’s type, class, and market.
  • Reduces the risks of errors, defects, failures, recalls, complaints, adverse events, and lawsuits, which can harm the organization's reputation, profitability, and sustainability.
  • Improves the organization's efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity by eliminating waste, optimizing resources, streamlining processes, and enhancing communication and collaboration.
  • Fosters a culture of quality, innovation, and customer focus by engaging and empowering the employees, suppliers, and partners and encouraging feedback and learning.

The key benefits of a medical device QMS

Implementing a medical device QMS can bring many benefits to the organization, such as:

Improves collaboration

A QMS facilitates enterprise collaboration among different organizational functions, departments, and locations and with external stakeholders such as suppliers, customers, regulators, and auditors. A quality management system provides a common framework, language, and platform for closed-loop quality efforts. This helps share information, data, and documents and align goals, roles, and responsibilities.

Guarantees data security

A QMS ensures the security, integrity, and availability of the data and documents related to the medical device, which are often sensitive, confidential, and proprietary. By implementing appropriate controls, such as encryption, authentication, authorization, backup, and recovery, data and documents are protected from unauthorized access, modification, deletion, or loss.

Other data security benefits include gaining full control and traceability, auditability, and accountability of the data and documents by maintaining records, logs, and histories of the actions and changes.

Documents software compliance

A QMS helps the organization document the compliance of the medical device's software components, which are often complex, dynamic, and critical for the device’s functionality and safety. A structured and standardized way of documenting the software requirements, specifications, design, development, testing, validation, verification, and maintenance is necessary.

It also helps the organization demonstrate the software's compliance to regulators, customers, and auditors by providing evidence such as test results, reports, and certificates.

Manages risks and requirements

A quality management system enables the organization to manage the requirements and risks associated with the medical device, which are often diverse and evolving. A QMS provides a systematic and proactive way of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and mitigating risks, such as technical, operational, financial, legal, and reputational risks.

Additionally, it provides a comprehensive and consistent way of capturing, defining, prioritizing, and verifying the requirements, such as customer, user, functional, performance, regulatory, and quality requirements.

What regulations govern a medical device QMS?

A medical device QMS must comply with the relevant regulations and standards that apply to the medical device industry, which can vary depending on the device's type, class, and market. Some of the most common and widely recognized regulations and standards are:

ISO 13485

ISO 13485 is an international standard that specifies the requirements for a QMS for medical devices. It is based on the ISO 9001 standard for quality management systems but with additional requirements specific to the medical device industry, such as risk management, design control, validation, and traceability.

ISO 13485 applies to any organization involved in designing, developing, producing, installing, or servicing medical devices or providing related activities, such as technical support. Many regulators and customers globally recognize and accept ISO 13485, which makes it crucial to ensure your medtech products meet customer and regulatory requirements.

Medical device regulation (EU) 2017/745 (MDR)

EU MDR (medical device regulation) is a European regulation that sets the rules and obligations for medical devices regarding placing them on the market and putting them into service in the European Union (EU). MRD has replaced the previous directives for medical devices (MDD) and active implantable medical devices (AIMDD).

MDR aims to ensure a high level of health and safety protection for patients, users, and other persons and to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market for medical devices. It covers classification, conformity assessment, clinical evaluation, and more. MDR also introduces new requirements, such as unique device identification (UDI), implant cards, and the European database on medical devices (EUDAMED).

FDA 21 CFR part 820 regulation

FDA 21 CFR part 820 is a US regulation that establishes the current requirements for good manufacturing practice (CGMP) for the quality system of medical devices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces it and is the regulatory authority for medical devices in the US.

FDA 21 CFR part 820 covers design control, document control, purchasing control, production and process control, corrective and preventive action (CAPA), and more. It also requires establishing a quality policy, objectives, manual, plan, and audits.

When is a quality management system (QMS) required for medical devices?

A QMS is required for medical devices whenever the organization intends to market, distribute, or service the device in a regulated market, such as the EU, the US, or other countries with similar or equivalent regulations and standards. It’s also required whenever the organization wants to demonstrate its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction and gain a competitive advantage in the medical device industry.

When medical devices are created for research, education, or personal use only and are not subject to regulatory oversight or approval, a QMS is not required. However, even in these cases, a quality management system can still be beneficial for ensuring the quality and safety of the medical device and facilitating the future transition to a regulated market, if desired.

How long does it take to implement a QMS?

The time it takes to implement a QMS for medical devices depends on several factors, such as:

  • The size, complexity, and maturity of the organization and its products
  • The scope, objectives, and expectations of the QMS project
  • The availability, involvement, and competence of the resources and stakeholders
  • The level of alignment, integration, and customization of the QMS processes and tools
  • The degree of compliance, certification, and validation required by the regulations and standards

Generally, depending on the above factors, a QMS implementation project can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, and these projects typically involve the following phases:

  • Planning: defining the project scope, objectives, deliverables, timeline, budget, roles, and responsibilities
  • Analysis: assessing the current state of the organization and its products, identifying the gaps and opportunities for improvement, and establishing the requirements and specifications for the QMS
  • Design: designing the QMS processes, procedures, documents, and records and selecting the QMS tools, software, and hardware
  • Implementation: implementing the QMS processes, procedures, documents, and records, and installing and configuring the QMS tools, software, and hardware
  • Testing: testing the QMS processes, procedures, documents, and records and verifying and validating the QMS tools, software, and hardware
  • Training: training the QMS users, managers, and auditors on the QMS processes, procedures, documents, and records, and the QMS tools, software, and hardware
  • Deployment: deploying the QMS processes, procedures, documents, and records, and activating and operating the QMS tools, software, and hardware
  • Monitoring: monitoring the QMS performance, effectiveness, and efficiency, and collecting and analyzing the QMS data and feedback
  • Review: reviewing the QMS results, outcomes, and impacts, and evaluating the QMS satisfaction and compliance
  • Improvement: improving the QMS processes, procedures, documents, and records, and updating and upgrading the QMS tools, software, and hardware

What are the essential requirements for a medical device QMS?

The essential requirements for a medical device QMS are the following:

Document control

Document control manages the creation, approval, distribution, revision, and retention of QMS documents such as policies, procedures, manuals, plans, reports, forms, and templates. It ensures that the QMS documents are accurate, complete, consistent, up-to-date, accessible, identifiable, and traceable. Document control also prevents the use of obsolete, outdated, or unauthorized QMS documents.

Training management

Training management identifies, plans, delivers, evaluates, and improves QMS training activities such as courses, workshops, webinars, and e-learning.

Training management ensures that the QMS users, managers, and auditors have the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies to perform their QMS roles and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. Training management also ensures that the QMS training activities are relevant, timely, and cost-effective.

Audit Management

Audit management involves planning, preparing, executing, reporting, and following up on QMS audits, such as internal, external, and supplier audits. It ensures that the QMS processes, procedures, documents, and records comply with the QMS requirements, regulations, and standards and are implemented and maintained correctly.

Audit management also ensures that the QMS audits are conducted by qualified, independent, and impartial auditors and that the QMS audit findings, observations, and recommendations are addressed and resolved promptly.

CAPA Management

CAPA (corrective and preventative action) management is responsible for identifying, analyzing, resolving, and preventing QMS nonconformities, deviations, and incidents, such as errors, defects, failures, recalls, complaints, adverse events, and risks.

CAPA management ensures that QMS problems are corrected and prevented from recurring and that QMS performance and quality are improved. CAPA management also ensures that the QMS CAPA actions are documented, tracked, verified, and validated.

Choosing the right medical device QMS software

Choosing the right medical device QMS software is critical for any organization creating medical devices. QMS software is a tool that supports and automates processes, procedures, documents, and records, and it integrates and communicates with QMS tools, software, and hardware.

This software can help the organization save time, money, and effort and enhance the medical device's quality, compliance, and customer satisfaction.

However, not all QMS software is created equal, and not all QMS software is suitable for the medical device industry. Therefore, when choosing QMS software, the organization should consider the following factors:

  • Functionality, features, and capabilities of the QMS software and how well they match the QMS needs, requirements, and expectations of the organization and its products.
  • Usability, reliability, and scalability of the QMS software, and how easy, fast, and secure it is to use, maintain, and upgrade.
  • Compatibility, interoperability, and connectivity, plus how well it integrates and communicates with the other tools, software, and hardware. As well as communicate with external partners and other enterprise tools.
  • Compliance, certification, and validation of the QMS software, how well it meets the QMS regulations and standards that apply to the medical device industry, and how well it provides the QMS evidence and documentation.
  • Lastly, cost, value, and return on investment. How much does acquiring, implementing, operating, and supporting the QMS software cost, and how much does it save and benefit the organization and its products?


These are some of the critical factors that medical device manufacturers should consider when choosing a QMS software solution. The software should meet the organization's functional and technical requirements and help it achieve its strategic and regulatory goals. One such solution is Windchill PLM, a comprehensive platform that enables medical device makers to manage the entire product lifecycle, from design to delivery, with quality and compliance in mind.

Windchill PLM offers change control, document management, and closed-loop feedback features. It ensures compliance and standards adherence, facilitates audits, integrates CAPAs, manages customer experiences, and supports traceability while focusing on risk, reliability, and applicability. Windchill PLM is an excellent choice for medical device QMS software, as it helps organizations deliver high-quality products that meet customer needs and expectations while reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

Windchill PLM: Your Medical Device QMS Solution

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Tags: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Windchill Life Sciences Closed-Loop Quality QMS

About the Author

Derek Koziol

Derek Koziol has over 20 years as an experienced Continuous Improvement leader with deep expertise in Six Sigma, lean, change management and program management.

With an MBA and LSSMBB, he has led global enterprise Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) initiatives in several industries ranging from technology and automotive, to complex pharma and medical devices.