You could call it the Uber of spine surgery.
Xenco Medical recently debuted a smartphone app to speed delivery of the company’s spinal implants and sterile, disposable surgical instruments to the operating room.
The San Diego startup’s TraumaGPS app allows a surgeon to notify a Xenco technician of an upcoming procedure. The technician delivers a variety of the company’s implants and instruments, and works with the surgeon to determine which will be needed for a particular patient, explained Xenco founder and CEO Jason Haider.
Sterilization of metal instruments can delay surgery for hours.
“It’s a very cumbersome process and it’s very time-consuming for the hospitals,” Haider said. “The implants are carried on that tray for hundreds of procedures until that size is used. Even if they haven’t’ been used, they have to undergo sterilization every time.”
Using Xenco’s fiberglass-reinforced, injection-molded, polyetheretherketone (PEEK) instruments eliminates the need for in-hospital sterilization, and TraumaGPS can further reduce delays for trauma surgery, allowing for more efficient use of the OR, according to Haider.
“We can optimize it one step further and that is to let you know exactly when they’re going to arrive so you can get the patients ready and you’ll save another hour,” he said. “That was the idea behind the app. It was to capitalize on the surgery-ready quality of our system.”
To save hospitals on disposal costs, Xenco contracts with third parties to collect and repurpose its used plastic instruments into other products, such as asphalt. The company used materials science to develop the PEEK instruments not only for their disposability, but because repeated sterilization can affect metal instruments’ calibration, Haider said.
Most patients undergo scheduled spine surgery due to the effects of aging or smoking, but some arrive at the hospital with a traumatic injury. This is where the Xenco app can really make a difference, according to Haider.
“Those require immediate stabilization,” he said. “This was really the reason that we wanted to do what we do, which was come up with a solution that eliminates all of those logistics, eliminates the safety issues and also brings down the cost.”
Haider began his career developing software and hardware for rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injuries. That exposed him to the healthcare system and the spine, inspiring the formation of Xenco. The company spent its first four years on R&D, Haider said.
Six-year-old Xenco also makes traditional titanium spinal implants and instruments and its products are available nationwide.It has clearance to market in Europe, but except for its pedicle screws, it is focusing on the U.S. market for now.