This should prove an exciting few months for team Regenexx. Last year we took our registry data and moved it to a custom designed CRO quality database. We also hired a full time bio statistician to better mine that data. In addition, we also began work on an advanced research lab to separate out our Colorado clinical processing facility from our research operations. In addition, the private investment of the last two years has allowed us to stock that advanced research lab with all of the equipment that you would find at any university lab. This advanced research facility will open this week. In addition, our bio engineering team will also move into new digs.
Why have we done all of this when, like everyone else out there now offering stem cells, it would have been far cheaper to buy a cheap bedside centrifuge and place it on the counter in our medical office? Why use all of these valuable resources to track patients and research new therapies? The answer is simple. Regenexx is the birth of a new medical specialty-Interventional Orthopedics. In fact, Interventional Orthopedics is bigger than Regenexx, as it’s happening all around us like any grass roots phenomenon. A core group of well trained physicians (numbering maybe 100 in the US) believe that 20 years from now, just as much of cardiac surgery has gone the way of the dinosaur, much of surgical orthopedics will be replaced by procedures that can be performed through a needle. As a result, we’re on the verge of a revolution in orthopedic care that will combine biologic therapies with new tools and devices that will allow most ACL tears, rotator cuff tears, meniscus tears, disc bulges and herniations, non-healing fractures, and arthritis to be healed by walk in-walk out injection procedures performed under exacting imaging guidance. So our job for the next 20 years isn’t to maximize our own income, but to craft a new medical specialty.
Two weeks ago I examined a high net worth individual who was very curious about what we did. He was an investor in small companies and literally half of the visit was taken up by questions about the technologies we used. He kept coming back to the same statement said in different ways. It was basically this, “why weren’t we doing everything we could to maximize income and get these technologies we were developing sold to the highest bidder who would use them in traditional invasive orthopedic surgeries?”. On one hand I was a little bothered by it all and on the other hand intrigued enough that I thought about that conversation a great deal. I know people like this gentleman who consider their life’s work a spreadsheet. Basically, every move they make in life is to massage the numbers in that Calculus so that investment is minimized and income is maximized. While I had always known our team’s focus, one morning in the shower (where all great concepts flow) it hit me, we weren’t running a group of doctors, scientists, and engineers to ensure maximum return on investment, we were inventing a new medical specialty. Money without purpose to me wasn’t worth it. We were investing in changing the world.
To reinvent orthopedics care from the ground up takes a tremendous commitment. For example, last week our clinic physicians got lists of names of their former patients to call. While we attempt to contact these patients via an expensive patient registry process whereby e-mails and phone calls are made at set time points after a procedure so that standardized questionnaires can be filled out, people get busy and sometimes they ignore us. However, the information about what happened with their procedure-great improvement, some improvement, or no improvement is valuable from a scientific standpoint and will be one of the pillars of this new medical specialty. Hence we have doctors personally calling patients to try and make sure we can get this last bit of data. I would estimate that about each clinic physician will spend 20-40 hours of their own uncompensated time this next few weeks contacting as many of these patients as feasible. You’ll be seeing the results of their efforts here in the next few months as we release our 2013 data analysis of our procedures.
To close I’d like to recap a meeting with one of our bio engineers on Friday. He had made a fantastic animation of a new device we’re developing to treat a problem which is now only treated via arthroscopic surgery. I wanted to make sure he knew why he was developing this device, so I told him a story. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I was in medical training, the concept that cardiac surgery could be supplanted by interventional cardiology (placing stents through catheters) was absurd and would have caused any physician at the time to laugh out loud. Every 50 something male I admitted to the hospital had a huge scar on his sternum from open heart surgery. 20 years hence the concept of open heart surgery for most patients makes most physicians laugh out loud. So our bio engineer’s job wasn’t just to make this device well, but to participate in changing the world by creating a tool for interventional orthopedists so that countless patients would have a less invasive way to fix their bodies. He, like everyone that’s a part of this team, doesn’t have a job, they have a calling. They are part of something that’s much bigger.
So what is Regenexx and what are the Regenexx core values? Developing the new medical specialty of Interventional Orthopedics. Supporting that effort with a world class clinical and lab research infrastructure so that this medical specialty is supported by data. Driving that intention is the invention and creation of the devices that the next generation of physicians will rely on everyday to treat their patients. Fueling that effort is a one of a kind educational program that trains the physicians who are qualified to perform these procedures. All of this is built on the great tradition of physician driven innovation that’s brought us medical breakthroughs like in-vitro fertilization and almost all modern surgeries. Some will call this process disruptive, others will call it innovative, but If it doesn’t change the world as we know it, we’re not interested.