The Digital Future of the Orthopedic O.R.: Not Rep-less, but less rep…
We all know that situation. You’ve hosted a party. Everyone has behaved themselves and had a good time, but it’s now late, and you have to clean up and go to bed. But that one person is hanging tough, and painfully ignoring the social cues you are issuing that it’s time to go home. They were a great addition to the party, and welcome to come again if invited, but……
The culture of the orthopedic OR has incorporated the hardware device sales rep as part of the team, and for good reason. The device rep often serves a critical piece in the mission, which is to deliver the best quality surgical outcome for the patient. A good rep often quarterbacks the process in delivering the equipment, and can provide a resource for not only his/her equipment, but peripheral information pertinent to the procedure as well. They know where things outside the room are, help the support staff with setting up and reviewing the equipment before the case begins, and can provide information to the staff about how to assemble and use instrumentation and consumable supplies such bone cement. They even will call their company to get answers and support for surgeon and staff questions that come up during the case, and relay the information to the surgical team.
But this all comes at a cost for the healthcare provider. Studies show that having this high level of service adds about 20-35% to the cost of implants for an orthopedic case. And the fact is, not all surgical cases require “white glove” service: from personal knowledge as a trauma rep, and through talking to other reps, I know that about 50-60% of orthopedic cases are “routine”. The equipment “lives” at the hospital, the staff knows the equipment cold, and the surgeon performs the surgery often. Familiarity breeds competence and confidence, and OR staff often pride themselves on self reliance.
So are sales reps critical to the mission for “routine” surgical cases?
Google. We all know it and use it. Its great for two things in particular: Finding information, and delivering it quickly and effectively. Its ability to do this has changed our lives - who among us hasn’t used it to look up an instruction manual or video showing how to do something? And this information is in the form of digital content - it can be delivered anywhere a computer screen can be put.
And at little or no cost.
Lets go back and think about what the device rep provides the OR staff during surgery: primarily information on where things are, how to use things, and connection to information resources “outside” the surgical suite. Now think back to Google and digital content and technology: it can provide the same things. Perhaps not as dynamically as a sales rep, but as we have shown, often in “routine” cases there is little real value add for having a rep in the room.
Introducing Einstein, Summate Technology’s innovative O.R. smart cart. Running our Velox™ software, Einstein is the first platform that delivers digital content, via voice command, to the surgical field. Einstein can be controlled by sterile field staff, and can provide the following digital technologies to sterile personnel in the surgical field, during surgery:
VOIP calling to a predetermined directory (ie: “call pathology” or “call Joe Smith ”) (Joe being the device sales rep)
Tray “set up” videos from OEMs for scrub staff (“show me the Matrix Midface Tray Set up Video”) accessible during room set up before the patient arrives.
“How to” quick technique videos (ie “show Hydroset cement mixing instructions”)
And, of course, a total scanning platform, including the world’s first sterile field implant usage scanning at point of use, during surgery.
Now, there will always be a place for a good knowledgable device rep in the O.R. However the days of junior reps crawling like ants all over the surgical suite to “defend” business and adding little value outside of changing the radio and counting implants, are numbered. The clock is ticking.
If you stop and think about it, the surgical field is the ideal intersection of voice recognition, digital content, and artificial intelligence. The analog OR is simply GOING to move to the Digital O.R. Costs will be lowered, and quality improved through more perfect and better information dissemination.
And Summate Technologies is providing the economic incentive (through supply chain automation), and the technology to do it.
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