The Pipeline – The Advisory Board Company

Ashley Ford

For many institutions, orthopedics has traditionally been a prosperous service line known for its simplicity. Because of low barriers to entry and relatively stable growth, orthopedics is a marquee business across hospital strategic planning. In 2012, however, the orthopedics community experienced a few important debates leading to developments that will impact the industry in 2013.

During the first half of 2012, continued clinical concern was expressed about the complications associated with the use of metal-on-metal hips, and the second half of 2012 brought debate around the implications of proposed (then rescinded)outpatient joint replacement reimbursement.

To ensure that our members have access to networking opportunities and the most current orthopedics research, my colleagues and I launched our inaugural Orthopedics & Spine Summit – a day-long summit bringing together providers, physicians and suppliers to discuss the latest programmatic and technological trends in orthopedics and spine.

To help you prepare for 2013, we’ve compiled the top four technological trends to watch for in clinical orthopedics innovation across the year.


1. Continued commoditization of implants

Over the past decade, the orthopedics device industry has mostly stabilized. Technology advancements using premium materials or customized approaches have some appeal, but lack the clinical data to suggest superiority over traditional products. As costs continue to rise for orthopedic devices, generic implants have been offered as alternatives to brand name premium implants.

Currently, generic implants are FDA approved and typically sold at approximately 50-60% of the cost of brand name devices. The Orthopaedic Implant Company (OIC) is a key player in the field of generic implants. Initial movement in this terrain has focused mainly on trauma implants (plates, screws, and nails) that are more commoditized than differentiated hips, knees, and spine devices.

In a marketplace increasingly concerned about maintaining margins, it is likely that interest in these devices will grow as long as providers can gain buy-in from physician users. Whether using generic implants or not, it will be essential for administrators to continue to manage PPI vigilantly.

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