More than 7 million people require orthopedic surgery annually and the implant market is projected to grow from $46.5 billion to $64 billion by 2026, according to Fortune Business Insights. Manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson build implants and replacement parts for human limbs that are used in orthopedic surgeries worldwide. What happened after that was never a sure thing. Over $1 billion worth of orthopedic kits get lost, stolen or stuck in some administrative abyss during distribution to healthcare providers. Fortunately, that all changed in the last year with an innovation that is transforming the orthopedics supply chain through the Internet of Things (IoT).
QMed Innovations’ mission is to provide powerful data analytics and insights for medical device manufacturers, distributors and providers. Its patented Quest IoT solution tracks medical device kits and provides the most meaningful information, such as real-time visibility and asset performance, improved reallocation of inventory and reduced capital expenses, eliminating waste and loss in the supply chain process.
Finding & Filling that Hole in the Market
Literally, a hole. I call it, “the Inventory Black Hole.” If something gets sucked in, it’s never seen again just like the cosmic black holes in outer space. Many healthcare manufacturers feel as if they are deploying their devices into an inventory black hole. They hire distribution services to deliver their products to hospitals and surgery centers only to hear that they never arrived and quickly need to resend their orders. This has been a recurring problem for years which carries a number of negative ramifications, not the least of which is healthcare risk to both the patient and the healthcare institution. And not so incidentally, orthopedics that go into the black hole cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 per medical kit lost. So this problem has a high cost in both financial and human terms.
Once we identified how serious it was back in 2017, we began analyzing this issue in search of the right technology. We determined that the industry needed a solution that did not yet exist – one with infallible tracking technology that would provide complete visibility and detailed insights to benefit manufacturers, distributors, healthcare providers and ultimately, the end-user patient. We began working on prototypes that combine hardware and software elements that provide key data points and most importantly total visibility of the medical equipment through a user-friendly and reliable dashboard interface.
After some early iterations, we realized the most critical element was connectivity. This solution had to be always on with a strong connection regardless of whether a hospital is in an urban or rural area of the country. That’s where MetTel came in.
MetTel introduced us to business partners who helped us integrate MetTel’s IoT Single SIM into our new Quest solution. Single SIM is a unique global SIM that can be enabled to connect to any device for reliable location and critical temperature sensory information. Unlike other SIMs that typically connect to one carrier or to the cheapest carrier coverage in any given area – which can produce dead zones in coverage – Single SIM finds the strongest signal anywhere in the world and maintains that link until it automatically shifts to the new strongest signal in the next region. It also “phones home” constantly, letting you know exactly where your device is at all times.
With Single SIM, our quest for a solution to the “inventory black hole” was complete and Quest was born. Now, orthopedic manufacturers, distributors and healthcare providers who use Quest have a 100% track record of safely delivered medical equipment. This industry revolution not only protects and streamlines the supply chain for which it was designed, it also helps all key stakeholders maintain their records for regulatory compliance accounting for the validity of every delivery. This, of course, means greater patient safety and timely treatment for those millions in need of orthopedic soft tissue repair or total artificial joint implants.
We learned that with some foresight and vision, you can solve a nagging problem and, with the right technology, transform an industry in the process. For QMed Innovations, these were the key takeaways that led to our success and could help any organization looking to leapfrog the competition and set a new standard for excellence:
- Find that hole in the market whether it’s an aggravating problem or it’s a way to do something better. How? Just follow the money. Where is it being invested, made or lost.
- Work with an ecosystem of innovative partners who can help you build on your own innovation or vision. Academic researchers are brilliant and helpful at the conception stage. Business partners strong on execution are critical when it’s time to finish it and go to market.
- Look for the best, most flexible technology that fits your business model, not necessarily the biggest brand name or the safest bet. In our case, IoT and MetTel’s Single SIM are key solution ingredients. With the era of 5G looming, all kinds of new, powerful capabilities will be enabled through IoT so get ready to find and fill that new hole in the market.