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Vending Machine Keeps Spinal Implants at the Ready

Vending Machine Keeps Spinal Implants at the Ready
Xenco Medical's interactive vending machine dispenses sterile, single-use kits containing both spinal implants and surgical instruments.
Xenco Medical’s customizable machines can dispense prepackaged sterile kits with implants and instruments and help manage inventory.

Jason Haider set out a few years ago to streamline healthcare when his company, Xenco Medical, packaged surgical instruments and spinal implants together according to size and procedure in sterile, single-use systems. He later introduced a smartphone app for surgeons to use to order kits for upcoming procedures. Now he’s taken the next step by launching an interactive vending machine for dispensing those sterile-packaged systems.

“It’s been important to not only develop new implant systems but to construct a new framework for delivery,” Haider told MD+DI. “I wanted to develop an automated dispensing solution around our sterile systems from the beginning but waited until we had several years’ worth of feedback from both surgeons and hospital administrators from around the country. My concept of a surgical vending machine itself was born by observing novel applications of automation over time, with automated vending kiosks in airports serving as an early example. Through an iterative process, Xenco Medical’s interactive vending machine reflects a multitude of inputs from across the country, which ranged from a need for secure access and traceability to on-demand training for hospital staff.”

Equipped with WiFi and a touchscreen, the machine uses an advanced elevator-based system to retrieve each sterile-packaged system. Each machine can hold up to 260 Xenco Medical boxes, and the machines can be customized to meet the needs of each hospital or outpatient surgery center, Haider said. Packaging and kit assembly did not have to be adjusted to fit into or to be handled by the machine, he added.

“As a WiFi-enabled, secure vending system, there are numerous benefits for both users and patients,” he said. “For users, it offers both readily available surgical implants and instruments in a secure machine, accessible through user-specific RFID cards. By allowing users to search the dispensing history of the machine, it affords facilities usage analytics by both instrument and implant. These insights are critical as healthcare facilities optimize their processes.”

The machine also features on-demand virtual tutorials thanks to a virtual assistant named Ezra. “Our virtual tutorials ensure that there is readily accessible information for users as they dispense our products,” he said. “Because of a desire to have Xenco Medical’s sterile-packaged systems ready for use at any moment, Ezra, our virtual assistant, was developed specifically for our machine. Offering virtual tutorials on our products, Ezra provides users with the opportunity to learn about or re-familiarize themselves with our implant systems. We are continuing to develop Ezra’s capabilities and look forward to having him exist as a resource independent of the vending machine as well.”

Real-time inventory alerts are sent to Xenco Medical headquarters. Such updates “allow us to track inventory levels and ensure that each facility remains stocked with our implant systems,” he explained. “This further streamlines the logistics at each facility by automating one more process.”

The machine can submit billing information directly to Xenco Medical headquarters. “In the case that it is not sent through the machine, we will still have real-time information on the inventory levels,” Haider said. Because the machines require “user-specific access cards and passwords provided by Xenco Medical, both trusted third-party partners and the healthcare facility itself can replenish the inventory, which is monitored in real-time by Xenco Medical.”

Please see the demonstration video below.

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