Throwing out the Orthopedic Playbook

Most of the yearly marketing budget was dedicated to congresses and journal ads as that was the traditional way most companies connected to the potential customer, the surgeon. For traditional products this remains true to this day. After reviewing our typical patient profile one thing became obvious, virtually every one of them had seen 3-4 previous surgeons prior to choosing Arthrosurface, and all of them found us by searching the web using terms such as “alternative to a total joint replacement” or “minimally invasive joint replacement.” In a radical act I cancelled 100% of our journal advertising, even though we had inside page space in multiple journals and we reduced our congress and meeting attendance. Instead, built the website and social media assets to “capture” patients as they were searching for something other than a joint replacement, and we moved surgeon interaction to labs. The idea was to make it easier for patients to find us when they were in the process of looking for answers. Because patients now had the ability to manage their care by going where they wanted and hospitals were limiting the products surgeons could use, the patient now had the most power and control over their implant, not the surgeon. Additionally, we learned that patients who were interested in new technology wanted to hear from another patient rather than other sources. With that in mind, a new program to build patient testimonials and videos was created. Being a startup, our funding for video production was limited. Luckily for us, a new inexpensive video camera, the Flip Video, came onto the market just at the right time. It made taking videos almost as easy as taking a picture. The new program was to send these video cameras out to interested patients after surgery so they could tell their stories unedited and in the way they wanted. They were then posted on a special youtube channel created just for this purpose. The patients loved it and many made their decision to use the HemiCAP because of another patients story. A surprising benefit was the surgeon response. Many who would not normally have considered using a HemiCAP were convinced to try it simply because their patients demanded it. Today, direct to consumer advertising is normal but 15 years ago, especially in stodgy old orthopedics, this was considered unproven and crazy.