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Q&A with Andrew Dalton, Senior Business Leader, DePuy Synthes

How integral is the medical technology industry to orthopedic care?

Movement is a fundamental aspect of our lives. Yet, for millions of people, movement is compromised. Globally:

  • Approximately 110MM people suffer from symptomatic hip and knee osteoarthritis and;
  • More than 250MM people suffer from osteoporosis worldwide.
  • That leads to:
    • 6MM hip replacements;
    • 2MM knee replacements; And
    • 4MM operatively treated fractures worldwide every year.

As the largest and most comprehensive orthopaedics business in the world, we have a critical role to play in tackling this challenge, and creating and supplying innovative medical technology is crucial in helping the millions of patients requiring orthopaedic care.

Our goal is to transform orthopaedic procedures through personalisation, automation and providing solutions for patients throughout the entire continuum of care. Innovative medical technology is, of course, a critical part of this.

What are the long-term patient benefits to high quality orthopaedic care? 

Over the last decades, we have worked to improve patient outcomes focusing on better materials, implant designs, and operating techniques, all of that combined with professional education to support surgeons in care delivery. Robust implants that drive better clinical outcomes and increased patient satisfaction improve procedural efficiency and reduce variability, helping patients to get home sooner and, importantly, return to a pain free, active lifestyle with a good quality of life. 

The NHS turns 70 this year. How has the field of orthopaedics changed in that time?

Firstly, congratulations to the NHS on this fantastic milestone and to the extrodinary staff who dedicate their lives to caring for patients.

It can’t be denied that the NHS today is very different to the one that was born 70 years ago - with a growing and aging population, there is a greater strain on existing resources, meaning hospitals must do more with less.

We’ve come a long way from the first cemented hip replacement that was performed in 1962, and we are now seeing the industry move towards value-based healthcare to support the increasing need for orthopaedic services as outlined in Professor Briggs’ Get it Right First Time report and the Carter review. This highlights how orthopedic referrals from GPs to secondary care providers are increasing by 7–8% each year and show no signs of slowing[i]. The NHS is undergoing transformation and industry must adapt to that.

Creating innovative medical devices to meet the unmet needs of surgeons and patients is, of course, still incredibly important. But we need to provide more value - developing total solutions in partnership with the NHS that put patients at the centre. Providing services for comprehensive disease management and improving the overall patient experience is key, along with supporting hospitals with managing their capacity to treat more patients more efficiently. It is this collaborative approach from industry that will contribute to helping the NHS continue to thrive for the next 70 years.

One example of this is our CareAdvantage approach, which we launched in the UK last year to help healthcare providers deliver value-based care with solutions that aim to reduce costs, improve outcomes and advance patient satisfaction. We have seen great success in UK hospitals with this approach, specifically relating to orthopaedic care. Within one partnership we are tracking to help deliver 1,500 bed days and a 12% increase in theatre utilisation. 

What changes and trends can we expect to see in the future of orthopaedics?

There’s no doubt that we will continue building on our development of value-based healthcare through partnerships with the NHS and healthcare providers. This, coupled with continued innovation in medical technology to meet the unmet needs of patients, makes it a very exciting time for orthopaedics.

We recently acquired Surgical Process Institute (SPI) to broaden our existing portfolio of value-added services to address the challenge of outcome and procedure variation between surgeons. By standardising procedures, we will enable consistent patient outcomes whilst driving economic efficiency.

Digitally enabled technologies offer huge potential and our recent acquisition of Orthotaxy will allow us to tackle the next frontier in orthopaedics through navigation enabled automated bone cutting. It offers a portable, low cost system that is easy to use and designed to improve accuracy.

We know that robotic-assisted surgery is gaining popularity among orthopaedic surgeons, but to truly add value, this technology needs to be more than just a surgical add-on. It must be a key element in a comprehensive, software-enabled solution that addresses surgeon and patient needs before, during and after surgery. This approach will enhance surgical efficiency, promote better clinical outcomes, reduce variability and increase satisfaction—driving value across the entire episode of care to help the needs of patients and surgeons alike.

Andrew Dalton


[i] Briggs (2014) Get It Right First Time

vi Briggs (2015) A national review of adult elective orthopaedic services in England. https://www.boa.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GIRFT-Exec-Summary-Mar15.pdf