The robotic have-not: How J&J plans to woo hospitals, knee surgeons

By ARUNDHATI PARMAR – MedCity News, March 17, 2017

Johnson & Johnson and Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences) have a joint venture to create the next generation of robotic surgery souped up with digital technologies in the future. (Watch out Intuitive Surgical.)

But when it comes to hip and knee replacement today, J&J Depuy Synthes is a robotic have-not.

Competitors have robots or are close to having something robotic in joint replacement.

On Tuesday, Stryker launched its total knee application on the expensive Mako robotduring the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in San Diego. That same day at AAOS, Smith & Nephew previewed its hand-held robot-assisted device for total knee replacements in advance of a market release in the second quarter. And Zimmer-Biomet was also proudly displaying its robot on the exhibit floor — the Rosa robot acquired with the purchase of French firm Medtech SA – although the robot won’t be doing total knee replacements until 2018.

There is a general notion that robotics will gain ground in orthopedic surgery though the predictions around adoption pace vary greatly.

One analyst — Brandon Henry from RBC Capital Markets — believes Stryker will be the clear winner with the launch of its total knee on its Mako robotic system and will take market share away from Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes and Zimmer-Biomet in the next few years. Another — Richard Newitter from Leerink Partners — believes robotics adoption will be much more gradual and only in complex cases but still having one in the short term is better than not having one.

So in the meantime without a robot, how can J&J DePuy Synthes woo hospitals and knee surgeons, some of whom are part of Medicare’s mandatory 90-day bundled payment program called the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement.

Company executives are relying on the wide breadth of J&J’s knee offerings, its services chops and a new company-sponsored whitepaper that touts the economic value of its Attune Knee.



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