Medical science in the Netherlands is known for its pioneering discoveries. Sometimes these solutions may seem simple, but they can speed up processes considerably. Such as the invention made by SLAM Ortho, for instance. We spoke to the founders Bart Kölling and Just Schornagel.
What kind of innovation has SLAM Ortho come up with?
We have a new product that is able to speed up orthopedic surgery. This type of procedure often involves the use of metal plates and screws for fixating broken bones. To do this, you need to drill into the bone and then measure the depth of the hole with a metal hook. This step is time-consuming and prone to mistakes. We have developed a drill bit that automatically measures this hole depth and can subsequently send this information wirelessly directly to the surgeon to read. This drill bit works with all drilling equipment and no other steps need to be taken during the operation. It really is a plug-and-play solution that can speed these procedures up by 10%, which can save valuable time in the operating room (OR). Less time spent in the OR is also better for the patients, and they also have a lower chance of having the wrong length of screw inserted, which could potentially be harmful.
How did you come up with the idea of setting up this company?
The surgeon in our team has often seen this problem and wanted to do away with using the metal hook. He then sought out the other founders and together we looked for potential solutions. After some experimentation we saw that there had to be a solution that would work well for surgeons. Consequently, the company was launched and a patent was applied for.
Is there much competition in this area?
Several products from independent parties have come onto the market which are trying to solve this same problem. What we see is that these products often tend to add extra steps or inconveniences, which is why they have not been put into practice in many places yet. At the moment we do not see any other competing ideas from the major players within the field of trauma/orthopedic surgery.
What are the biggest obstacles that SLAM Ortho faces?
Entering the market for equipment used in the OR is not that simple. There is a lot of regulation in the field of medical equipment and it is not so easy to just start discussing your idea with a hospital. That is why we are looking for parties to work with and help resolve these problems.
What are you proud of?
We are proud of the performance level that the prototypes have achieved so far. They have already proven their worth on real human tissue. We are also proud of the patent that has been granted.
What are your plans for this year?
This year we are working with the EIT Health Validation Lab at YES!Delft. We are currently in the process of getting our commercial plans validated. After this, we will look for investment that can help us on the path to certification of our medical equipment which can actually be brought to market.
What is your goal in the next five years?
In the longer term, we want to further develop our product portfolio and use our ‘smart’ tools with the technology we have developed in more places. The technology we can offer and the data we are able to collect will be very useful in improving the quality and efficiency of surgeries.
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