Implants get ‘smart’ in orthopedics

Zimmer Biomet this summer announced a so-called “smart” knee implant—a first of its kind to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.

A little over a month later in October, orthopedic surgeons in New York City completed the first total knee replacement with the device—a knee implant with an embedded sensor that counts the steps a patient takes, their walking speed and range of motion, so that the surgeon can monitor their progress from afar.

It hints at a future where a sensor implanted in the human body can detect—and maybe even predict—a patient not recovering as expected.

“Data is key,” said Dr. Peter Sculco, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacements at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and one of the surgeons who performed the surgery. “Now we have the ability to analyze big data in a much more rapid fashion.”

Zimmer Biomet’s smart knee product is just the start, analysts say.

It’s the first smart implant to be cleared by the FDA for a joint replacement surgery—but other medical devicemakers also have their eyes on the market.

“We’re just in the early innings of where this technology can go,” said Ryan Zimmerman, an analyst at BTIG who covers medical technology.

Devicemakers manufacturing implants for joint replacements want to continue to innovate and build on their products, as hospitals are exploring new ways to move more care to the home. An investment in smart implants also takes a page from developers of other medical technologies—like cardiac pacemakers and diabetes management tools—that have put data into the hands of patients, analysts say.

But medical device companies will have to prove the value of the innovative devices—and make sure they’re not adding unnecessary cost—to make a convincing pitch to customers.

By Jessica Kim Cohen | Modern Healthcare

Image Credit: Modern Healthcare


About Peter Coffaro 506 Articles
Peter Coffaro is a growth-driven and strategic executive with over 25 years of progressive management success in the medical device industry. With a proven track record and recognized expertise, Peter has established himself as one of the top influencers in medical sales, as acknowledged by prestigious publications such as the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and Throughout his career, Peter has accumulated 10 years of combined sales management experience, excelling in various roles including Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. He has worked for industry-leading orthopedic companies such as Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker, solidifying his deep knowledge and network within the field. Peter’s passion for innovation and emerging technologies led him to found OrthoFeed, an award-winning blog covering digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Through this platform, he stays at the forefront of the industry and contributes to the dissemination of valuable insights. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson, demonstrating his exceptional contributions and impact on the organization. His expertise extends to areas such as organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter earned a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University, further complementing his comprehensive understanding of the medical field. With his wealth of experience, strategic mindset, and dedication to advancing healthcare, Peter Coffaro is a valuable asset and leader in the medical device industry.

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