Orthopedic Devices are Reaching a Digital Convergence

A look at how digital technologies are transforming orthopedic design and manufacturing, as well as the care environment.

Orthopedic device manufacturers are embracing digital technologies and tools to bring real-time data and analytics to the forefront, enhancing patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs—from initial interventional planning to surgery, tracking patient recovery, and long-term self-monitoring. In fact, digital technology is being applied in all three phases of orthopedics: pre-op, intra-op, and post-op. Several digital patient engagement platforms are already being used to engage with patients in pre-op (surgical planning phase) as well as post-op (post-surgical recovery phase).

“In addition, computer-assisted navigation and robot-assisted surgeries are also starting to enter the intra-operative phase of orthopedics,” said Neeraj Mainkar, vice president of software engineering and advanced technology at Proprio, a Seattle, Wash.-based technology company that has designed a surgical navigation system that connects pre-operative imaging and planning with intraoperative performance data. “However, we still have a long way to go before digital orthopedics becomes mainstream.”

Digital technologies such as 3D printing and web-based patient engagement platforms have now become a regular part of the orthopedic industry. Advancing steadily into the marketplace are new applications for artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital technologies, including machine learning (ML), deep learning, and natural language processing. AI is an integral part of most new applications because “it has the transformative power to truly augment ‘surgical intelligence’ and help with sophisticated diagnostics, as well as predictive analytics, with respect to post-operative patient outcomes that are truly game-changing for orthopedic surgery,” added Mainkar.

Interoperability and Data Sharing

As impressive as these digital advances are, “convergence” cannot happen without effective device interoperability. Seamless data sharing is a core requirement for the full adoption and integration of digital technologies in the orthopedic space. Lack of such interoperability between different devices (including legacy) and applications is holding back the full convergence of digital technologies—not just in orthopedics, but for all surgical and healthcare applications. This increases the burden of manual documentation on medical staff and slows down the entire process of healthcare.

Medical device interoperability encompasses different degrees of information exchange and comprehension, as outlined by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). The four levels—foundational, structural, semantic, and organizational—progress from basic data exchange to the integration of governance, policy, and workflow considerations.

“The complexity and functionality of interoperability extend beyond just device design and operation,” said Jennifer Samproni, chief technology officer of the Health Solutions business group at Flex, a global manufacturer serving diverse industries, including healthcare. “Interoperability in medical devices is an adaptive concept, molded by the device’s functionality and design complexity. This dynamic attribute allows for effective integration and communication within the orthopedic space and many healthcare environments.”

By Mark Crawford | Orthopedic Design & Technology

Image Credit: Mark Crawford / ODT


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 MedReps.com. 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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