Zimmer Biomet's growth strategy in spine: MIS, cervical and becoming a 'health solutions provider'

Spinal Tech

Mark Richards, Director of Marketing Communications, Events and Services at Zimmer Biomet Spine, discusses the company's two major acquisitions of 2016 and where Zimmer Biomet plans to grow in the spine space going forward.

Q: How has the acquisition of LDR gone? Were there any surprises?


Mark Richards: The acquisition has gone well. From the initial announcement to closing the deal, we are now well on our way to identifying our team and moving forward. Zimmer Biomet with its history in joint reconstruction and spine fusion, along with the addition of LDR in the cervical motion preservation space, is now able to expand its spine portfolio to include cervical disc replacement.


Q: Zimmer Biomet also acquired Medtech and its surgical robotic technology. What do the new spine innovations mean for the company as a whole?


MR: Medtech has two different robotic platforms — ROSA® Brain and ROSA® Spine — and that represents a significant opportunity in the surgical robotic field. If you look at spine, Zimmer Biomet has a strong footing with its best-in-class fusion systems, and now we have the opportunity to grow in the surgical robotic space, as well.


The company will also continue with the success it has had on the hardware side with minimally invasive technology, which would have been true even without the robotic acquisition. For example, the company is forging ahead with the Timberline® lateral lumbar fusion system, and the Avenue® T posterior lumbar cage, which is the first posterior interbody cage featuring integrated fixation. That's the latest in the vertebral cage space, and Zimmer Biomet Spine has all the technology in one portfolio.


Q: Now that Zimmer Biomet has such a differentiated spine business, what advantage will the company have for growth?


MR: It will be in utilizing the strength of the combined portfolio. Zimmer Biomet has a rich tradition in hip and knee replacement. In spine, we'll leverage that reputation to differentiate ourselves in the market. On the LDR side, we were using technology and innovation to open the door to new business with surgeons. Zimmer Biomet can leverage technology and innovation as well, but on top of a broad spine fusion portfolio of pedicle screws, lumbar interbody devices, cervical applications, and biologics. With that diverse offering of conventional and innovative solutions, the company has a legitimate claim of strength in the spine and MIS space moving forward.


Q: How do you see the spine device space headed in the future? What are you doing to prepare for changes in healthcare?


MR: If you think about where medical device manufacturers have been in the past, there is a focus on providing implants for the discrete surgical event, where the customers are the patient and surgeon. Now companies are looking to expand their services throughout the entire episode of care, from pre-op to post-op. On the front end, there are opportunities for diagnostics and planning; beyond the surgery there is value in supporting the recovery of patients and monitoring their clinical outcomes.


Innovative companies understand that the marketplace is receptive and responsive to medical device providers arriving earlier in the process and staying engaged longer, rather than just showing up with the implants at the time of surgery. Companies are starting to think beyond the surgeon and patient, considering the needs of the facility and payer, as well as healthcare economics. On a larger scale, they're looking to employ technology, data and health information services to move from a traditional device provider to a true health solutions provider.


Q: How is Zimmer Biomet becoming a "health solutions provider"?


MR: We are doing this by providing tools for pre-op planning, navigation and robotics as well as some of the things we can bring together for monitoring post-op outcomes. The focus is not simply on providing satisfactory implants; it's on ensuring that the result of each surgery is a well-served patient that is clinically and economically happy. It's delivering a win for the patient, surgeon and ASC or hospital. For example, the company engaged in a healthcare economics study for the Mobi-C® Cervical Disc that established the technology as not only clinically favorable, but also as economically preferred because patients are less likely to have subsequent surgeries at adjacent levels. Surgeons are less likely to treat the patient again because an issue progressed that could have been treated in the first procedure. That is not only a win for the patient, but is also attractive to payers. Insurance companies want quality care for their subscribers, but they also prefer to treat patients clinically and economically in the best way possible to fully address the patient's needs in one surgery.


Q: What is going to drive Zimmer Biomet's business strategy in 2017?


MR: Our strategy moving forward is to leverage what we have to extend horizontally on both sides of the surgery, from pre-op to post-op care, and to grow vertically in the healthcare space, to address the needs of healthcare systems as well as those of individual patients. In terms of the real drivers from the market — sales, marketing and product management—we are employing considerable resources to deliver meaningful spinal solutions, and invest where it makes the most sense.


Two areas of focus for us, Cervical and MIS show great promise, as supported by the movement of other significant orthopedic and spine players to invest in robotic navigation, for example.


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