Jean-Paul Burtin Reflects on 30+ Year Orthopedic Career

By Carolyn LaWell

Jean-Paul Burtin Reflects on 30+ Year Orthopedic Career

Jean-Paul Burtin was attracted to orthopedics by its possibility for innovation. The enticement did not disappoint.

“I have always been interested in many disciplines of the medical field, but I believe orthopedics is probably the most innovative specialty in medical device,” he said. “Besides demographics, constant innovation and the use of artificial intelligence make me very optimistic about the continued success of this industry in the future.”

Over his 40+ years in medtech—30 of which were in orthopedics—Mr. Burtin played a role in the commercialization of one of the premier hip stems and the growth of one of the largest contract manufacturers. He held leadership roles on both the OEM and supplier side of the orthopedic industry and in various countries—from Brazil to France to Switzerland and the U.S.

Mr. Burtin, a longtime ORTHOWORLD Member and friend, recently announced his retirement. We asked him to share some of his fondest professional memories and advice for future leaders.

Do you have a favorite memory or two from your career?

Mr. Burtin: Yes. At the time, I was General Manager of Landos Inc. After more than a year of struggle, I received notification from FDA telling me that the Corail hip stem was cleared for marketing in the U.S. That clearance most likely played a significant role in the acquisition of Landos International Group by DePuy a few months later.

From what I hear, the Corail stem is the most implanted hip in the world nowadays.

What is your most significant professional accomplishment?

Mr. Burtin: In 2001, after 10 years of work with OEMs, I decided to explore the supplier side of orthopedics and was hired by Tecomet as Vice President of Marketing.

After introducing the basics of marketing, I began a strategic plan to grow the company by acquisition and not only by organic growth. The plan was accepted by Viasys Healthcare, the then owner of Tecomet, and implementation began just before I retired. After Charles Bank acquired Tecomet, the acquisition pace accelerated. Now Tecomet is the industry leader, with about half a billion dollars in revenue.

What is one of the most significant changes you’ve seen in the industry during your career?

Mr. Burtin: I would point out the tremendous progress in the quality of care and, more specifically, patient outcomes due to research and innovation in all segments of orthopedics, whether it is implant design, materials like coatings (HA, Nano coatings), highly porous titanium (3D printing), orthobiologics or surgical techniques (MIS, navigation, robotics).

I believe that these innovations greatly improved outcomes in areas like knee replacement and hip replacement, where results were already good 25 years ago. More recently, they’ve improved outcomes in areas like shoulder and extremities.

MIS, navigation and robotics have played a major role in giving a big boost to the spine market and, to a lesser extent, to trauma and sports medicine.

What concerns you about the future of the orthopedic industry?

Mr. Burtin: I believe that current concerns like an “overdose” of regulations and constant pressure on the cost of care will continue for a long time worldwide.

Major changes will happen in this industry with the development of tissue engineering and progress on cartilage regeneration or transplant. If it is not for tomorrow, it will be after tomorrow, and the industry must be prepared.

What are a few of the greatest lessons you’ve learned during your career?

Mr. Burtin: Over the past 40 years, I have learned how important it is to stay alert and open about potential opportunities constantly, whether purely business or simply career-oriented. Often totally focused on the day-to-day business and urgent matters, it is not always easy to accept to be distracted by “apparently” petty topics.

I have also learned how professional communication and efficient networking are vital in developing a startup or a small business. Since the advent of the Internet, I have noticed that many companies do not update their websites properly and regularly. These companies not only take the risk of losing some business, but of damaging their image.

Furthermore, and considering the significant turnover in this industry, devoting enough time and resources to always know who does what at one given time is, in my opinion, essential for the success of a small company.

What advice do you have for current and future orthopedic leaders?

Mr. Burtin: During my 40 years’ tenure in the medical device industry, I noticed several failures when diversification was decided without having developed a solid basis and focused on the company’s core activity or without proper market analysis and proper fit. This type of scenario leads to failure most of the time.

Another area that deserves attention is market and technology intelligence. This important part of general management in smaller businesses is often overlooked, probably for lack of resources. Although expensive, market and technology surveys are not a luxury.

Carolyn LaWell is ORTHOWORLD's Chief Content Officer.