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Orthopaedic Product Development: Forecasting Changes to Come

By Deborah Munro, D.Eng.

The orthopaedic industry has been in a steady state of incremental to slow product advancements. I anticipate that will change in the near future. There are a host of factors playing into what I believe will be a decade of rapid and radical change, and savvy device companies will be ready to respond to new market needs.

So, what forthcoming changes can we anticipate in surgical techniques, indications, technologies and regulations? Here are seven shifts that device companies should consider when choosing new product development initiatives.

Smart Implants

In almost every healthcare market outside of orthopaedics, medical devices incorporate electronics and sensor technologies; even the Internet of Things inundates the market with health monitoring devices. An opportunity exists in orthopaedics to incorporate smart implants that are capable of providing diagnostics, health status and other alerts to the patient and their physician.

To prepare to sell in this market, it’s imperative to learn what is possible with electronics. Consumer electronics shows and niche conferences on medical sensors and implantable devices are great places to learn about the latest innovations. Once companies are aware of electronic advancements, they can determine which products are suitable candidates to convert into smart devices that may provide additional, useful information, thus changing the industry paradigm.

Customization

With the increase of additive manufacturing technologies for implants occurring in parallel with enhanced imaging capabilities and robotic-assisted surgery, I believe there will be a portion of the market that will move away from standardized implant sizes.

Patient-specific implants are becoming a cost-effective solution. This shift will improve outcomes and reduce inventory and fabrication costs. OEMs should consider investing in these new technologies, particularly additive manufacturing using titanium. Spinal implant companies use this technique, and the potential exists to make hip stems, tibial trays and reconstructive plates quickly enough to be used in these larger markets.

Used in parallel with advanced imaging techniques and precision robotic-assisted surgery, the advantages will become obvious, increasing demand by both surgeons and their patients.

Read more at BONEZONE®.

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