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‘Till The Hip Socket Sinks

In 1992 Nike produced their award-winning “Bo Knows” campaign, featuring the amazingly talented Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson. Bo was the first athlete to achieve All-Star recognition in two different sports: football and baseball.

But, Bo’s future as an athlete became uncertain in 1991, when he was tackled and sustained a devastating hip injury. His football career ended, and he missed the 1992 Major League Baseball season to have hip replacement surgery. Though Bo never waivered in asserting that he would return to baseball, many doubted that it was a realistic goal.

Instead of dropping Bo as a spokesman, Nike paired him with comedian Denis Leary, who went on to obnoxiously challenge the audience to reflect on the fact that they’re sitting on the sofa while Bo and his new hip are out cross-training.

And Bo answered Denis’ sneering narration by returning to the baseball diamond, hitting a home run on his first-at-bat, the first of 16 homers he would deliver in his first post-surgery season. Nike printed a full page ad reading “Bo Knew”.

What Bo Knew

What Bo knew, and what millions of people suffering from hip, knee, and spine pain have come to learn in the two decades following his triumphant return, is the remarkable difference orthopedic surgery can make to every day life. Orthopedic surgery is now a $30 billion market, growing at over 7% per year. Joint reconstruction expenditures alone, the largest category of orthopedic implants, are projected to reach $23 billion by 2016*

There are several reasons for the growth in demand for these procedures:

  • A total of 77 million baby boomers have now begun to reach retirement age, but have absolutely no intention of growing sedentary in retirement. They are pursuing active lifestyles well into their golden years, and are replacing aging joints as needed to stay competitive on the course and the court.
  • Increased rates of obesity across the population as a whole are straining knees and hips, shortening their natural durability and driving increasing demand for replacement procedures.

Orthopedics is a highly specialized medical arena. Implant manufacturing requires expensive materials such as titanium and composite polymers, and adherence to extremely tight production tolerances. This necessitates a high degree of product and process innovation.

The implants themselves are only part of the medical material equation – an orthopedic procedure also requires an array of system trays containing specialized tools and supplies needed to install an implant. Revision of an existing implant (Bo Jackson underwent several such revisions) requires numerous banks of additional tools and system trays.

Supply Chain Solutions: What the Orthopedics Industry Needs

These medical material requirements, combined with the sheer magnitude of diversity and variability that each patient brings, make for an extremely complicated and time-sensitive supply chain. This is really the only area where orthopedics specialists have been slow to embrace innovation. Implant and supporting system supply chains remain largely predicated on redundant processes, excess inventory, and manual reconciliation. This in turn leads to continually escalating cost and limitations on care-giving capacity.

The traditional approach to orthopedic implant logistics isn’t sustainable. Hospitals are already operating under highly challenging margin pressures, and annual increases in demand for implants coupled with increasing implant costs and declining procedure reimbursement rates will exacerbate this situation.

The orthopedics industry needs collaborative supply chain solutions that create business value while enabling timely and effective patient care. Leaner, centralized inventory management supported by systematic replenishment, enhanced visibility and logical routing can mitigate operational redundancies and increase capacity for orthopedic professionals to complete more procedures. The prevalent manual processes many institutions rely on currently don’t create business value even at current volume levels, and certainly cannot scale up to meet project increases in surgical procedure demand.

As Denis Leary noted in his narration in the 1992 commercial with Bo Jackson: “It ain’t over until the hip socket sinks.” To keep from sinking under the combined weights of increased patient demand and increasingly constrained reimbursement, it’s imperative that the orthopedics industry complement their product innovation with logistics implementation.

What do you think?  To learn more logistics innovation in healthcare please visit ups.com/endochoice.

*Sources:  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and UBM.

Category: Healthcare
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    Comments [3]

  1. As a boomer looking to get a knee replacement, I would be interested to hear your comments on what providers DO use innovative logistics solutions, as I would like to use this as an indicator of a practice that focuses on comprehensive excellence in patient care.

  2. I’m disabled and have a hard time getting the package into my Apt can UPS Choice Help??

  3. Cindy, That is a very insightful approach! The challenge is that logistics innovation is not something that the care providers can do on their own. Sustainable, meaningful improvement requires manufacturers, surgical hospitals, orthopedic practices, and ancillary service providers to work collaboratively. It would be difficult to focus solely on specific physician practices because they are only one element of the equation.

    Homeronzorap, UPS My Choice can help in terms of scheduling your package to ensure that it arrives with a time window when you would be able to have friends or family available to assist you. Alternately, UPS My Choice can enable you to direct the package to an alternate delivery location, to a friend or family member to assist you.

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