The AAOS Meeting seemed to go quite well earlier this month for all involved.  Frankly, it’s not hard to keep everyone happy in a city like New Orleans.  And, hats off to the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.  Employees from each department of OIC were on hand to set up, attend, breakdown, and ship the booth which marks our presence in the exhibit hall.  We’ve set up all over North America and can state with conviction that the people running things down in The Big Easy were organized and incredibly helpful.  Once the booth is set up, it has become tradition for us to walk through the hall as a team, taking stock of each vendor’s space and how they have changed since the last meeting.  Booths range from tasteful and appropriately sized to major installations akin to attractions at  a World’s Fair.

Given our dedication to creating better value in healthcare, we keep sales and marketing expenses at a minimum.  We have a modest, yet intriguing booth that serves more as a meeting place for us and surgeons, as opposed to lights and gimmicks designed to draw in passersby.  There are no giant replicas of the new doohickey turning on a shimmering pedestal, nor are there curious drilling or grinding sounds emanating from demos within a cavernous booth space.  Our booth is 10 feet by 20 feet.  The largest vendors in our industry have two story booths and thousands of square feet.  With the massive production lighting, music, and refreshments, it starts to feel more like a Rush concert than an exhibit hall at an orthopaedic conference.  Why does it feel wrong, though?

It feels wrong because the exhibit hall is not a trade show.  There’s not a product in the entire hall that a patient “wants” to buy.  It’s all “need”, elective or not. And, it’s not patients who are checking out the latest total hip they are going to need this year.  In the exhibit hall, it’s doctors choosing implants for their patients and there aren’t any price tags or price guarantees.  Should things look presentable?  Of course.  Should the booths feel clean and modern, and even be eye catching?  Absolutely.  But there is something different about the healthcare industry.  There’s a certain dignity and stewardship in delivering care, and everyone involved should act accordingly.

All of this still brings us back to the initial question, “How big is too big?”  Certainly a tough one to answer, indeed.  Maybe, given the state of US Healthcare, it’s all too big in general.