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Surgeons Offer Device Companies Wish List of New Technologies

Despite the myriad top-down pressures that surgeons face, many believe there is room for new advancements to improve current industry conditions. In our annual ORTHOPRENEUR Editorial Board query, surgeons discuss the technologies they seek and potential areas for exploration to move orthopaedic care forward in the coming year.

Surgeon participants included:

Alejandro Badia, M.D., Orthopaedic hand and upper limb surgeon, Founder of OrthoNOW, an orthopaedic urgent care center franchise
C. Scott Humphrey, M.D., Orthopaedic shoulder and upper extremity specialist, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Shoulder Options, Founder and Director of Humphrey Shoulder Clinic
Blair Rhode, M.D., Orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon, Founder of Rhode Orthopedic Group (RōG) and Orland Park Orthopedics Center for Sports Medicine
Blaine Warkentine, M.D., Healthcare Innovations Architect, Founder of Vimty and SurgeryTrack

ORTHOPRENEUR: What technologies would you like to see emerge in 2016 and beyond? 

Badia: The concept of telemedicine is a good one that’s long overdue. For a lot of the patients we see, particularly in follow-up, there is no reason for them to actually come in and see us. A patient could sit in front of the computer screen and show us her arm or motion and ask relevant questions. A lot could be done with telemedicine to scale down costs and actually decrease some of our aggravation in the office, because we’d be able to see some of the patients whom we just need to quickly see. We’re working to incorporate this concept in our OrthoNOW approach.

Humphrey: I’d like to be able to perform more complex surgeries on an outpatient basis rather than having to admit patients to a hospital. Keeping people out of the hospitals would save them a lot of money, and it would allow me to maintain an independent practice. A nerve block that lasts three to four days and doesn’t require a catheter would be welcome.

Rhode: A continued roll-out of stable technology offerings. I would like to see more offerings for disposable physician preference devices. Shaver blades and thermal devices are two examples that need stable market-based competition. The movement toward stable technology in the device arena continues. At RōG, we have continued to acquire more, and more surgery centers begin to use our stable shoulder anchors. 

Warkentine: I’d like to see more about at-home rehabilitation, outcome management and tracking and sensor data.

ORTHOPRENEUR: How do the shifts in patient demographics impact your view on and use of new technologies and techniques?

Badia: The aging population is going to impact healthcare costs in orthopaedics, obviously more with joints.

I want to emphasize proven stem cell technologies. The problem with stem cells is that they are this buzzword and are being abused. People who don’t know much about stem cells are injecting peoples’ joints and charging a heck of a lot of money. I think we’re going to see refinement and clarification of the indications in the next one to two years. We’re not going to be able to do total joint replacements on everybody who ages. It’s just not sustainable, nor desirable. 

Humphrey: Hospitals have become tight when it comes to allowing new technologies in the OR due to cost concerns.

Gone are the days when hospitals would pay a premium because something is “new and improved.” Similarly, physician-owned surgery centers are really watching their costs. Going forward, new technologies will need to be priced in the same range as existing technologies or they won’t gain traction.

There needs to be a continued focus on improving outcomes and making procedures more efficient, but going forward, cost containment will be more important than ever.

ORTHOPRENEUR: What one thing would you like to share with device companies?

Badia: The days of companies charging exorbitant fees are past us. Companies that are sensitive to that, they’ll stay in the game.

Humphrey: There needs to be a continued focus on improving outcomes and making procedures more efficient, but going forward, cost containment will be more important than ever.

Warkentine: Companies should be aggressive to move to eCommerce systems for hospitals.

The full article can be read here.