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One Company’s Experience During Covid-19: The OIC

by Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed., April 13, 2020

The Reno, Nevada-based Orthopaedic Implant Company (OIC) has a manifesto, a part of which reads, “…We can’t apply yesterday’s rules and expect them to work today…Today is a brave new world. It too, has its own set of rules…How will you rethink your world?”

OSN asked those at the OIC to share how they are rethinking their world during the Covid-19 crisis.

Peter Althausen M.D., MBA, Orthopaedic Surgeon
Co-Founder of Orthopaedic Implant Company (OIC)

Peter Althausen, M.D., MBA, is an orthopaedic surgeon and co-founder of the Orthopaedic Implant Company. He told OSN, “We are still seeing fractures because people are still out skiing, mountain biking, or riding motocross. Hopefully, they are practicing social distancing. In addition, construction projects have been declared exempt from business shutdown, so work-related injuries are still continuing.”

Asked when he noticed a shift/difference in their activities, Dr. Althausen told OSN, “Around mid-March, all five hospitals in the Reno, Nevada, area canceled elective surgery. This has left many operating rooms open, allowing for true emergencies to be cared for expeditiously.”

“My primary concern is the lack of understanding of government and community at large. This is a serious pandemic that could result in millions of infections and thousands of deaths. It does, however, have a limited lifespan. If all Americans took this seriously and stayed home for two weeks, disease transmission would end nationwide. If all of us self-quarantined, the epidemic would end in weeks instead of months. Healthcare crisis and economic collapse would completely be avoided. Without the need for testing, without the need for medicine, without the need for any additional resources, the crisis would be over.”

A little help from their ASC friends…

“Hospitals will require massive amounts of resources, PPE, and personnel to treat the multiple infected patients. As a result, elective medical treatments have been suspended at hospitals. The CDC has asked surgery centers to close as well, but recently the Governor of Nevada activated the Crisis of Standards of Care Plan, which asks Ambulatory Surgery Centers to expand hours to take the load off hospitals for fracture care. This will hopefully decrease exposure to COVID in emergency rooms and allow patients access to care. All fractures are automatically approved for care regardless of insurance. This is a huge step in the right direction.”

“Many private practice orthopaedic groups have been forced to fire employees. This is extremely sad, but the small business owners will be bankrupt without elective patients. Physical therapy has been suspended as well. Thousands of nurses, radiology technicians, cast technicians, billers, coders, medical assistants, and front desk personnel have filed for unemployment. This will have a huge effect on healthcare in the future.”

24×7 surgery?

“If Americans can self-quarantine, COVID will be contained. There will be a massive backlog of elective surgical cases. It will be difficult to get operative time for fracture care in many hospitals as orthopaedic operating rooms will be filled with joint replacement, spine, foot, hand, and sports cases that have been postponed. Hospitals and surgery centers will need to run seven days a week.”

Itai Nemovicher, CEO
Orthopaedic Implant Company (OIC)

Itai Nemovicher, CEO of the OIC, told OSN, “At OIC, we are working diligently to provide our customers with the products they need, when they need them, and at the best possible value. The OIC delivery model is designed to function without the need for face-to-face interaction between a rep in the OR and a surgeon, so the way we service our customers has not changed dramatically.”

“By mid-March, with the cancellation of AAOS and shift towards social distancing, we clearly recognized that hospital processes and demand for elective procedures were shifting. At that time, in addition to creating a remote work structure to keep our team and families safe, we connected with surgeons and hospital administrators to reiterate our commitment and ability to deliver products and meet their needs during this challenging and dynamic time.”

No end to the uncertainty?

“My primary concern is and always will be people. The level of stress that people are experiencing right now is significant. Worries about health, safety, finances, and future stability are weighing on everyone’s minds around the world. We are doing everything we can to help alleviate stress.”

“We’ve put measures in place to protect the well-being of OIC and their families. We’re committed to social distancing and encouraging everyone to stay at home, help flatten the curve and allow healthcare workers to focus on the most pressing healthcare concerns.”

“We remain committed to helping ortho surgeons and hospitals get through this challenging time. We’ve connected with our customers and many others to reiterate our ability to provide the ortho implants they need right now within the parameters that currently exist at hospitals throughout the country.”

“We’re also working to help people understand the value that OIC offers. People are concerned about money. From hospitals to surgeons to patients – we can help lower the cost of care.”

“We’ve taken many of the same precautions that other companies have taken in order to keep our employees, as well as everyone else, as safe and healthy as possible. We’ve implemented a travel ban, created a remote work structure, and instituted standard operating procedures for essential on-site employees that emphasize cleanliness efforts, disinfection of work areas and offices, and social distancing.”

“Our employees in the field have been instructed to remain at home unless on-site presence is specifically requested by hospital staff or surgeons. If they are requested to be on-site, they have been instructed to increase personal protective precautions. Fortunately, as I mentioned, our model actually allows for hospitals and surgeons to operate independently of sales representation support. As our delivery model is truly unique in the market today, we have been able to maintain service to our customers as we always have, ensuring they are ready to treat patients.”

Asked how he thinks things will be different 3-6 months from now, Nemovicher said, “The pandemic is changing on a daily basis, and predicting the future, even three months from now, is difficult. My hope is that Americans follow the guidelines and practice an abundance of caution so we can flatten the curve as quickly as possible.”

Whatever the future looks like, it needs money…

“Once the crisis dissipates, there will be an influx of elective orthopaedic surgeries, and more than ever, hospitals and surgical centers will need to prioritize the delivery of optimal care while managing costs. Value will be paramount for hospitals, surgeons, and patients. We want to be there in partnership with surgeons and hospitals as they navigate this difficult time and prepare for what the future may look like whenever that time arrives.”

Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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