During the 2018 earnings report conference call, Stryker executives spoke in-depth about Mako robotic technology growth and projected additional success in the future, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.
Stryker reported a strong performance from its orthopedic surgery robotic technology, Mako. In the fourth quarter, the company reported:
• Installing 36 robots in the U.S., compared to 27 over the same period last year
• Certifying 250 surgeons in the total knee technology
• Surgeons performed 24,800 robotic procedures in the U.S.
By the end of 2018, Stryker reported 642 Mako robots installed worldwide with 523 being in the U.S. and most including the upgraded total knee system. During the fourth quarter, Stryker reported installing 54 robots globally with 40 percent in competitive accounts. Now around 1,600 surgeons are trained in the Mako total knee procedure, and the total knee procedures increased 35 percent last year.
Utilization rates also increased 25 percent during the fourth quarter and 30 percent year-over-year. In 2018, 30 percent of the knee surgeries performed with Stryker technology were cementless.
"Combined, we believe these data underscore that Mako is undoubtedly a powerful marketing tool for hospitals [and] that continued demand for the robot and steady acceleration in the utilization by surgeons is being driven more by the powerful clinical results and patient benefit," said Vice President of Strategy and Investor Relations Katherine Owen. "Looking ahead to 2019, we believe we are well-positioned to continue to drive Mako momentum as we exited the year with a healthy orders pipeline for the robot."
The company also aims to add clinical data to support the Mako technology, including the total knee application which has been on the market for two years. Stryker Chairman and CEO Kevin Lobo said during the Q&A that surgeons in competitive accounts typically change their implant while learning to use Mako and switch to the cemented knees; however, when they are comfortable with Mako they begin to use the cementless technology.
"Cementless still has significant runway and surgeons are really, really pleased with the results they're seeing with their patients. And that's what's causing the extra uptick," said Mr. Lobo. "So we believe 2019 will be another year of strong above-market performances in knees."
Ms. Owen said the company expects to have double-digit growth in the number of robots installed in 2019.