We are very fortunate to live in the era of modern medicine.  Long gone are the days when the anesthesia of choice could be delivered by a bartender.  Past are times when amputation was as casually offered as a cup of coffee.  Or, how about that little miracle we call soap?    It’s true – medicine has come a long way. 

In particular, we can be very thankful for recent developments in orthopaedics.  While the cost of healthcare is outlandish, perhaps there are a few things worth paying for?  Take Dr. Carl Hansmann’s Fixation Plate, for example.  Made using proprietary alchemy of malleable metals, the design allows for superior surface contact to the bone with geometry facilitating removal.  Dr. Estes is another innovator in the field, introducing snap-off ivory pegs to plate fixation constructs.  The design is really the first of its kind.  And, more recently than Hansmann’s or Estes’ designs, is the intramedullary nail.  Designed by the Rush Brothers out of Rochester, MN, the nail has quickly become the go-to hardware for a multitude of fracture patterns in the extremities.  However, nothing proves how far orthopaedics has come as Dr. Albin Lamotte’s biodegradable implants and his founding the advanced concept of osteosynthesis.

All of these breakthroughs have surely occurred in the last few years, right?  And with that, the R&D must have been a fortune to warrant the pricing of these implant types today, right?

Dr. Hansmann’s hardware and subsequent surgical technique was developed during Grover Cleveland’s first presidential term in 1886.  The proprietary metallurgy?  A nickel-steel combination.   Or how about Dr. Albin Lamotte’s coined phrase “osteosynthesis”?  Dr. Lamotte coined that phrase long before Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination that kicked off WWI.  His concepts for hardware and fixation serve as the basis for the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen or “AO”.  Many of the implant designs have not changed since the AO’s inception in 1958!  Or how about that IM nail; clearly a design warranting the absurd premiums paid for orthopaedic implants today?  Nope – you could have “gotten nailed” shortly after the stock market crash of 1929.

As we can dismiss R&D as the primary driver behind astronomical orthopaedic implant pricing, where’s all that money going?  Take a moment and peruse our product pages.  Sure, all of the products are FDA-approved and held to the highest standards of manufacturing to meet the most exacting of clinical requirements, but they are just screws and plates.   Can we say they are that much different from what was developed over 100 years ago? Not really.  That’s why we offer them at the lowest prices possible.  With modern designs as still as Swiss glaciers, how does an entire industry continue to get away with cutting edge prices?

Technology worth paying for revolutionizes society.  And, as we all have come to learn throughout modern society, only a few can afford it at first.  However, as production costs fall, adoption broadens and the laws of economics take over to find the intersection of price and quality.  It happens in every industry outside of healthcare.  So what’s clogged the pipes for US healthcare?  My dear readers pick any blog entry here on the OIC website for a taste of US Healthcare that will surely have you asking your waiter for the check.