Two Lessons on Innovation and Physician Clout from AAOS 2013

Physicians still have buying power, and innovation doesn't happen overnight.

March 20, 2013

3 Min Read
Two Lessons on Innovation and Physician Clout from AAOS 2013

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 2013, being held in Chicago this week was bustling on the first day of the technical exhibitions. Attendees buzzed around learning about the latest innovations from both large and small orthopedics device firms. And as they buzzed, ideas were practically being shouted over the noise of other conversations. Here are a few that caught my attention:

Physicians still have buying power.

Despite overarching trends including the Affordable Care Act, that suggest medical device companies should switch sales models away from a focus on surgeons, it may be that the orthopedic market isn’t quite ready for such a change. “Surgeons still need assistance in the OR from device experts,” explains Kurt Jacobus, chair, president and CEO of MedShape. MedShape has a few premium-priced devices and is a small private company. Jacobus notes that colleges who have tried to stop providing OR services to enhance cost efficiencies for hospitals have not seen the dollars to support the changed sales model. He does say that when private doctors move back into hospitals, they often feel that they have limits on which products to use. But he notes, the rumor that they have no say in what the hospitals buy is overblown. For example, if a surgeon brings patients with him when he moves into a hospital, Jacobus says, he will very likely retain quite a bit of clout.

ESPN Chief Medical Correspondent,  Michael J. Kaplan, MD will be discussing how manufacturers can better meet clinical needs at OrthoTec, 2013, June 5-6, 2013 in Winona Lake (Warsaw), IN. 

Truly innovative products take time.

I sensed weariness among some attendees, in that they really haven’t been seeing much innovation from the orthopedics sector for the last few years. “Industry is full of incremental change,” says Tim Czartoski, worldwide director for knee marketing at DePuy. One reason for the dry spell might be that companies have been doing the research to bring truly innovative products to market. DePuy spent six years developing its new total knee, Attune. The company actually went back to the drawing board and created new design tools to design in new geometries that address knee replacement patient needs, such as pain, stability, and balance. The device also emphasizes better sizing and function. To design the knee, the DePuy group worked with the University of Denver on kinematics and the University College Dublin on anthropometrics, among others, through which it developed 19 patented technologies. The devices obtained 510(k) and PMA supplement approvals over 2010 and 2011. Now the device has been implanted in 3500 patients globally and clinical trials are underway. The team also completely rethought surgical tools to improve readability and surgical time, and revised the cases to support hospital efficiency efforts. “Each technology works together to increase value and efficiency,” says Hanah McEwen, worldwide director for knee product development.

Kevin R. Stone, MD, will discuss biologics and the future of knee replacement at OrthoTec, 2013, June 5-6, 2013 in Winona Lake (Warsaw), IN.

Heather Thompson is editor-in-chief of MD+DI.


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