Team AngelMD • July 12, 2017

The word innovation is thrown around a great deal these days as a way to gain attention or buzz for something new. Based solely on the definition, the use is accurate:

Innovation: [in-uh-vey-shuh n] noun:  a newly introduced method, idea, product, etc.

But when it comes to healthcare, the definition may be too broad. Are little changes to existing products, or spins on existing ideas actually innovative? It can be argued that, to be truly innovative, a product should require greater thought, advancement, or value creation than what we often see.

The Overuse of Innovation

In healthcare, there are many methods and products that were truly innovative when they were introduced (artificial heart, minimally invasive robot surgery, MRI, deep brain stimulation, etc.). But these days, far more are simply labeled innovations as a marketing ploy, to attempt differentiation, or to gain a pricing advantage.

The danger we face is that, when everything is billed as being innovative it becomes hard to tell what actually is. Time and resources are limited, and the overuse of the term muddies the water when it comes to deciding what’s worthy of attention.

Finding Real Innovation

At angelMD, we’ve called upon the collective wisdom of our physician members to help evaluate innovation on the platform. What we’ve found is that there are some strong consistencies to those companies that are going beyond having a “cool, shiny object”. These companies:

1.      Solve a substantive problem for the user (physician, nurse, patient, etc.)
2.      Provide a more efficient solution than what currently exists
3.      Address a problem large enough to have a market
4.      Add significant value over what, if anything, is currently available.

Here are 3 examples of healthcare technologies with solutions that strive to raise to the level of advancement to be called innovations:

 

ECOM Medical develops easy-to-use Smarter Anesthesia Devices that reduce healthcare costs by decreasing complications and length-of-stay. EMI has developed, market tested, refined, and cleared for market the ECOM Endotracheal Cardiac Output Monitoring System, the first version of EMI’s approach to the development of “Smarter Anesthesia Devices”.

The ECOM system is used as a vital tool in the implementation of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols, which represent one of the most significant advancements in anesthesiology in the past decade.

Key among these ERAS guidelines is the protocol known as “Goal-Directed Therapy” (GDT). GDT uses key hemodynamic parameters to optimize tissue perfusion by perioperatively managing a patient’s fluid status, which can reduce surgical complications by up to 50 percent.

Having met with initial success with the proprietary ECOM endotracheal tube (Generation 1), EMI has now developed a suite of unique and proprietary tools to take advantage of the market opportunity presented by the rapid adoption of GDT. Rather than developing a stand-alone platform requiring additional training and modification of existing clinical technique, EMI is capitalizing on this movement by enhancing routinely used medical devices into those that can be used for GDT patient management.

EMI is creating, in essence, a family of “Smarter Anesthesia Devices” that can be inserted in the same manner as their standard counterpart – requiring NO CHANGE to standard clinical practice – but which will now provide the anesthesiologist with critical hemodynamic information needed to actively manage the patient perioperatively.

 

Articulus Bio technology takes a unique approach to solving the problem thought to be at the heart of the majority of total joint replacement failures: wear debris. The Articulus Bio patent pending Tendonoid Web Joint System could re-shape the way joint replacements are done.

Today’s implants all support the patient’s weight on a plastic surface that glides across a metal surface; these contact surfaces rub together as the patient walks, grinding off small pieces of plastic debris. This wear debris causes inflammation of the patient’s own tissues and ultimately erodes the patient’s surrounding bone over time. The combined inflammation and bone erosion lead to joint failure in about ~20% of ankle replacement patients within ten years. This means that many patients endure painful, costly ankle replacement surgery only to experience no improvement in their mobility, pain, and quality of life.

Articulus Bio joints instead carry patient’s’ weight by “floating” it on a web of Tendonoids – flexible, tendon-like straps composed of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE, pronounced “UM-pee”), an FDA-approved biocompatible material that is 15 times more resistant to abrasion than carbon steel. Articulus Bio’s Tendonoid Web Joint System is supported by a custom-printed titanium structure that allows for well-controlled, 3-dimensional movement, without sliding or grinding over surfaces. This can create joints that restore patient’s’ full range of motion and endure for decades.

 

Green Sun Medical has developed a dynamic brace that utilizes the principle of Tissue Remodeling to grow the spine back to a healthier shape. While the cause of the disease is not understood, Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) begins as a disease of the soft tissue.

The Green Sun Medical Orthotic seeks to prevent this progression by applying the right forces. The human body adapts to constant forces with tissue changing shape and length to restore equilibrium. The Green Sun Medical device is the first orthotic to directly address the complex biomechanics of AIS and could save tens of thousands of children a year from the pain of this deformity and the surgeon’s scalpel.


These are just three of the many examples of real innovation that you’ll find in the angelMD network. They’re not because we deem them to be, but because of the collective data for hundreds of physician subject matter experts. It’s time that we all choose to be more conservative with our use of the term innovation, while being more liberal in utilizing those things that deserve the title.

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Image Credit: Pixabay