The future of orthopedics holds many exciting possibilities, like incredibly precise robots for less invasive procedures and artificial intelligence for surgical decision-making. But you don’t have to wait years to benefit from innovative orthopedic technology — it’s already in use in many practices today.
Imagine seeing a patient’s internal anatomy and precise measurements layered directly over your field of vision while you’re operating. Or comparing digital models of different orthopedic implants to find the one that will fit your patient best. Orthopedic technologies can more efficiently and accurately perform many tasks, from surgical planning to patient monitoring, to save time and enhance patient outcomes.
Orthopedic templating software
Orthopedic templating software enables you to more accurately determine the best size and placement for an orthopedic implant to ensure it matches a patient’s specific anatomy. Compared to an analog approach, digital templating is more reliable and accurate for predicting the size, position, and alignment of an implant to restore a joint’s center of rotation and equalize limb length.
Like conventional analog templating, digital templating uses radiographs like X-ray images and CT scans. However, instead of layering transparencies of an implant over these radiological images, you can preview a digital representation of the implant. The preview allows you to compare the implant’s size and position against a patient’s unique anatomy. This enables you to better anticipate the postoperative results, like leg length, and make any adjustments before you even start the procedure.
Other benefits of using orthopedic templating software include:
- Less time in the operating room: Using digital templating, you no longer need to try out multiple types and sizes of implants or adjust the placement for the optimal fit in the middle of the procedure.
- Access to historical data: With orthopedic templating software, you can refer to the data from previous procedures when planning for similar cases. This saves you time during the preoperative planning process because you don’t have to start from scratch when testing out different implant brands, types, and sizes or considering which instruments to use.
- Optimized resource management: When you know ahead of time exactly which implant and instruments you need, inventory management becomes much easier for your staff.
An example of orthopedic templating software is PeekMed, which uses artificial intelligence to automate processes like bone segmentation, landmark detection, and surgical planning. The software provides 2D and 3D templates and automatically places the most optimal template in the right position for better surgical accuracy.
Patient monitoring apps
Patient monitoring apps reduce the need for costly inpatient stays and help you provide patients with comprehensive support while they are at home. This technology enables patients to recover at home while trusting that their doctor is keeping an eye on them. By remotely collecting patient data, you get deeper insight into the patient experience, including pain levels and response to treatment protocols.
The growing popularity of digital health has created an opportunity to improve how we track personal health data and engage with patients. Among the most common forms of digital health in orthopedics are smartphone apps: a 2020 study found that over 64% of orthopedic doctors said that they regularly used apps in their day-to-day clinical practice. Patient monitoring through smartphone apps is much more accessible to both healthcare providers and patients who don’t need to purchase another wearable device, which might not be covered by their insurance.
While remote patient monitoring (RPM) only collects physiological data, like vital signs and blood pressure, remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) gathers non-physiological data, like musculoskeletal activity and response to therapy. This offers much more flexibility on when and how you collect this data. RTM data includes patient-reported outcomes (PROs), where patients submit quantifiable data like pain intensity and pain interference. By combining these PROs with metrics like adherence to home exercise protocols (HEPs) and range of motion assessments, you get a fuller picture of your patient’s progress. This is especially valuable for orthopedic surgeons who only examine their patients every few weeks because you can see if they’re progressing as expected and intervene if not.
Exer Health is an AI-powered mobile app that uses a smartphone camera to collect critical post-op measurements like range of motion alongside daily or weekly prompts for PROs. Exer Health then provides your team with detailed reporting and progress charts for each patient, which promote highly productive check-ins and in-person sessions.
“My patients have been really excited about Exer Health,” said Dr. Catherine Logan of Colorado Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics in Denver, CO. “I think what they really like is that I’m involved between visits and that I’m very aware of how they’re doing and how they’re progressing.”