Medical Device Daily Associate Managing Editor

The Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland) and Stryker (Kalamazoo, Michigan), one of the world's largest medical device manufacturers, have formed a strategic alliance to develop what they said are the “orthopedic operating rooms of the future.“

Under terms of the 10-year alliance, Stryker will support the Cleveland Clinic in developing, testing and advancing image-guided surgery systems and other advanced orthopedic surgical technologies to improve patient care. In addition, Stryker personnel will help educate and train clinic physicians and other medical professionals in the use of these technologies.

Financial terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

“This alliance provides a support mechanism for the clinic's technology development and commercialization activities in the advancement of orthopedic surgery, a field that is growing exponentially in response to the aging population,“ said Joseph Hahn, MD, a surgeon and chairman of CCF Innovations, the Cleveland Clinic's technology commercialization arm in a statement. “Collaborating with Stryker enables the clinic's orthopedic surgeons to build upon their technological knowledge and experience in image-guided surgery and advance research in this field for the benefit of patients.“

The Cleveland Clinic brings to the collaboration a world-renowned Department of Orthopedic Surgery, ranked among the nation's top five orthopedics departments in 2004 by U.S. News & World Report. The clinic will serve as a premier site for Stryker to showcase its latest technologies while collaborating with the clinic on research and the development of new products and clinical applications.

Stryker and the clinic will develop an undetermined number of high-tech orthopedic operating rooms with fully integrated technological capabilities, including navigation systems, minimally invasive surgery equipment and communication platforms.

Three state-of-the-art orthopedic operating rooms are currently under construction at the Cleveland Clinic. The rooms are being equipped with the latest operative technology and instrumentation, including arthroscopy equipment and operative navigation systems for computer-assisted knee and hip replacement procedures.

Demand for these types of procedures is expected to increase between 10% and 15% per year for the next 40 years in response to the growing elderly population.

Joseph Iannotti, MD, PhD, chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, said that superficially speaking, the alliance is a boiler-plate idea for Stryker, “but when you look at the details of this particular partnership,“ he told Medical Device Daily, “it goes substantially beyond that which they have set up with other smaller institutions.“

Iannotti said that most of these types of partnerships between an institution and a medical device company relate to the use of product and putting in new technologies and developing operating rooms of the future.

The clinic's arrangement with Stryker, he said, goes beyond that into the sharing of intellectual property (IP) and the development of new techniques and newer applications of existing technologies, “basically fueling sort of a research agenda between both parties. That, I think, is the more critical issue of this partnership.“

Given Stryker's resources and already strong IP portfolio, Iannotti noted “there's the great potential for a lot more to come from this [partnership] over a 10-year period.“

Additionally, he said there's already an infrastructure in place to actually look at proposals for new ideas and fund those new ideas via research grants.

“If those research projects come up with new IP,“ Iannotti said, “that certainly can spawn either new products or new small companies that shed off and do their own thing.“

Specific areas that the partnership will explore, he said, include developing new technologies in the field of computer-guided surgery and addressing difficult IT issues, particularly the integration of data that comes from surgical procedures into the electronic medical record.

The data integration issue, Iannotti noted, is critical to the long-term success of the healthcare field. He said that any new technology that the partnership develops would ultimately have to be integrated into a very large and increasingly complex health system. He pointed out that in northeastern Ohio alone, there are at least 13 hospitals with 3,000 beds and patient care being delivered over a 50-mile radius.

“How do you get all of that data accessible to the right person at the right time?“ he asked.