“We should all be acting like Amazon’s getting into our business” -Johnson and Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky on CNBC, 2018

Believe it or not, this is how implants that are put inside your body during surgery are usually tracked.

This is not only a huge quality problem (studies show that half of all patient orthopedic implant records contain errors), but an enormous lost marketing opportunity for the device industry. 

The problem is that most orthopedic implants are removed from their packages and put into large trays before they are used.  The implants are often quite small (think a 1 mm diameter screw) and have proven extremely problematic to barcode.  All usage information is recorded manually (see above picture from an actual surgery).  This cascades into an entirely manual process of between 6-8 steps, including multiple manual data input steps between 4-5 different people in different areas of the hospital.  

A company like Amazon would analyze the above process and see a giant juicy steak of opportunity for them to devour.  They would beat their competition in two primary areas:  operations/supply chain efficiency (bottom line), and targeted marketing (top line). To accomplish this, the first and necessary thing to do is to accurately track and report demand (usage).  In layman’s terms, they would initiate point of use product scanning, and in the process capture incredibly valuable granular usage data. Then they would leverage that information to drive not only superior operations efficiency, but also to develop targeted marketing plans, and increase top line sales better than any other company. 

At the end of the day this is what makes Amazon Amazon: mastery of supply chain efficiency and superior targeted marketing.  What drives both of those advantages?  Better information.  Amazon (and Google for that matter) simply has better information than everyone else. 

If the orthopedic medical device industry really wants to act like Amazon, the first step is to invest in digitizing actual surgical usage information at point of use – scanning product usage and capturing granular customer and patient data during surgery, and instantly capturing the who what and where of their product usage.  This can now be accomplished through a new technology called orthopedic set mapping.  

And, the first orthopedic device company to realize that they are in the information business as much as they are in the plate, screw, and anchor business will be the first winner.

For more information on orthopedic set mapping to see new technology for surgical field scanning visit www.summate.net