Below are some early trends/predictions that I am seeing in orthopedics.
A quick note – Many of these trends have been occurring very slowly for years, but the COVID situation has accelerated everything. Examples: Some ortho companies were going out of business in a few years anyway, now its 3 months. VR Surgical Training was a decade phenomenon, now it is months. Big robot systems were going to be eclipsed by new small integrated ubiquitous systems in years, now it is months. Remote work was trending for years, now it’s now.
Think of the COVID effect as a disruption accelerator for the orthopedics industry.
25% of all orthopedic device companies are in trouble and may not survive the next 18 months.
Ortho companies with lots of cash will acquire over-leveraged companies at bargain prices over the next 3 quarters.
The IPO market will be closed for orthopedic companies or the next 12-24 months.
For the next couple of years, all orthopedic patients will be screened for COVID before surgery. If positive they will be treated in a quarantined COVID section of the hospital. If negative they will be treated in a regular wing of the hospital.
Many Ortho device companies will rethink their supply chains if products are currently made OUS. Many will start programs to onshore or nearshore manufacturing, or at least qualify new US suppliers as backups.
Many Ortho device companies will allow certain employees to work remotely forever. Remote work will become the default because of many benefits (productivity, great new tools, scheduling flexibility) while continuing to avoid travel. Virtual meetings will completely replace international travel.
Many orthopedic patients will prefer and seek-out surgery centers over hospitals for their elective orthopedic procedures. For rational or irrational reasons, many older patients will be scared of hospitals.
ASCs will continue to push back on robotic systems and large capital purchases (Mako, Rosa, Stealth, Brainlab, Pulse, Orthotaxy, ExcelsiusGPS, Navio)
Large complex robot surgical systems will start to be questioned by hospital administrators. This will be the end of the “large” robot wars and the beginning of the robot 2.0 movement (small, cheap, ubiquitous, automatically integrated).
Health care providers are incentivized to work through the backlog as fast as possible. Many have lost income. Once COVID is “contained”, some hospitals will put prepare to perform orthopedic surgeries 24/7. Device companies should be prepared to provide service to certain hospitals customers 24/7.
ASCs, as well as certain hospitals, will prefer single-use disposables over instrumentation systems that require autoclave trays. Health care systems will look for orthopedic solutions that are less burdensome.
Some companies will learn to provide surgery support with less-human contact or zero human contact, the virtual rep model (eg: Avail.io ).
Some hospitals/ASCs will ask that device companies “certify” that their implant boxes and packaging are COVID free. We will see new creative packaging systems from the device companies.
Some hospitals/ASCs will ask that device companies “certify” that sales reps are COVID free before they enter the hospital.
There will be a growing trend towards earlier discharges at hospitals.
There will be more patient consultations and more followup care via telemedicine because it works, barriers to telemedicine in the U.S. have largely fallen, and HIPAA compliance is doable.
VR surgical training for residents and orthopedists will gain more traction (eg: Precision OS , Osso VR )
Orthopedic wearables to track outcomes will become more popular. (eg: TracPatch )
Half of large orthopedic medical meetings will be replaced with virtual meetings.
95% of medical education will be delivered virtually.
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