How a digital O.R. helps the smaller orthopedic players
I recently had coffee with the CEO of a small spine orthopedic device company. In the course of our conversation, we talked about his challenges in selling his unique product into the US healthcare market. Like many startups, his company was a “one trick pony”- they had one product. This device, while innovative and potentially money saving for providers, was not what strategic Ortho companies would consider a “big ticket” item, in fact it was so much less costly than what currently was being used that it could be considered “disruptive”.
There are hundreds of small orthopedic companies in the US healthcare market, all of whom face the same challenge as this CEO’s company: they possess innovative products that would improve patient care, but struggle with getting the products to market. The problem is their particular product or limited product range doesn’t have the revenue (yet) to attract the attention of the Big Fish, and distributors have so many small products in their bag its very hard to get any attention, especially if it is a “money saving” technology that may cannibalize a currently sold product that yields higher revenue. Money talks, especially for sales reps. And given small startup revenues vs. cost of maintaining a direct sales force for every surgical use in the O.R., that route is simply not an option.
What to do?
Enter Summate’s Digital Operative solution, with point of use scanning in the sterile field, and digital content and VOIP communication provided at the field through our unique Einstein data cart. With regard to customer service, the nature of many orthopedic products (or any product really) require intensive customer care through the first several times of usage, with familiarity breeding competence in the end user. After the first few cases, in most situations the surgeon is generally competent and proficient – they are smart people. The primary role of product support often migrates mostly to the surgery support staff (surg. tech/circulating nurse), who tend to be variable personnel and may have limited experience with a particular device system.
Einstein would open up a new world of opportunity for getting products to the orthopedic market. Small companies could provide direct onsite sales support for the first several cases, and Einstein could provide subsequent support on an ongoing basis for a fraction of the cost of direct support. Items used would be directly scanned for billing and restock as they are used, and “how to” and “overview” support videos could be accessed by OR support personnel during room set up. If the surgeon had a question during the case, Einstein’s unique LifeLine™ VOIP directory will provide direct access to a company representative, directly from the patient site, for the surgeon to talk with.
And with Einstein collecting and delivering the end user data directly to the OEM along with a PO, smaller companies would be able to get accurate data invaluable for marketing, and solve cash flow problems.
The Digital Operative is coming, and it will unleash a tidal wave of technology that will save money, improve outcomes, and encourage even greater innovation. It’s up to the providers to leverage digital technology to deliver a better and more cost effective service to the healthcare consumer.
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