Ortho R&D Trends: Cost reduction is the mother of invention

Today’s big ortho device manufacturers justify raising their prices with the introduction of new models and technologies, and the cost of research that’s gone into making them. But the truth is, over the past decade, the orthopedics device industry has mostly stabilized. What’s more, many of these new devices lack the clinical data to suggest superiority over traditional products. A study published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research found the cost of the premium implants was on average approximately $1,000 higher than the standard implants, yet they did not demonstrate better survival rates than standard implants for total knee and hip arthroplasty.

Genuinely, new technology is difficult to introduce because of cost constraints and the burden of proof required by hospitals, physicians and patients, and as evidence has proven, new implant technology doesn’t necessarily mean better clinical value. As a result, R&D activities are increasingly aimed at developing cost-effective solutions and shifting from a traditional implant product-focused approach to one more focused on the surgical procedures.

While there have been great advances in post-operative pain control, rehabilitation and improved surgical techniques, the trend that has received the most attention is “minimally invasive” or “minimal incision” joint replacement. One such technology is supercapsular percutaneously-assisted total hip, or SuperPath . This approach involves advanced surgical techniques to encourage soft tissue preservation, and no muscles or tendons are cut. These minimally invasive surgeries help hospitals and patients save money; they usually cost less than traditional “open” surgeries, reduce hospitals stays and lead to fewer infections. As a result of the shift toward more cost-effective surgical procedures, orthopedic device manufacturers are placing greater emphasis on instrument design tailored to the new approaches.

Want to learn more about the current state of the orthopedic R&D sector? Check out this in interview featuring insights from orthopedic R&D insiders, including Mike Carroll of MicroPort Orthopedics, our parent company.

Cost efficiency