The Journey to 20,000 Total Hip Replacement Procedures: Thoughts from the Founders

Founders of Intellijoint Surgical

This post was written by Nick Leonard - Marketing Manager, Intellijoint Surgical

What started as an idea has since turned into a reality. And while the reality was never promised, the vision never wavered. “Entrepreneurs are inherently optimistic - we were and are no different. As first-time entrepreneurs, we didn't appreciate all of the challenges involved with commercializing a medical device, but we knew we had the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of those suffering from ailing joints”, said Bakirtzian, Co-founder and CEO of Intellijoint Surgical.

And yet despite all the challenges, Intellijoint Surgical has now completed over 20,000 total hip replacement procedures with its flagship product – Intellijoint HIP. When asked what 20,000 means to him, Co-founder and CTO, Andre Hladio notes, “to me, every one of those 20,000 is an individual who was suffering enough to accept surgery as their last resort; and everyone one of those 20,000 was done by a surgeon that trusted us in how they care for their patients.”

A thought shared by Richard Fanson, Co-founder and CSO of Intellijoint Surgical, “we've been able to help 20,000 patients in their hip replacement journey and 20,000 surgeons have used us to make sure they deliver the best care they can”.

Intellijoint is now 11 years into existence – in fact, we just celebrated our 11th birthday this past Tuesday (Feb. 8th), and what better way to celebrate than to hit this milestone of 20,000 cases.  While the design and the delivery of Intellijoint HIP have evolved over the last 11 years, the goal has remained the same, 'help improve patients’ lives by providing surgeons with effective, easy-to-use technology'. This is the mission that helps guide the company and one that is echoed around the office (pre-Covid of course) when employees are writing code, doing research, developing new product features, crafting marketing campaigns, or welcoming new team members.

But beyond the doors of the office are where some of the biggest wins for the company have taken place with “the surgeons and nurses who have helped us so much along the way -- talking to us in their offices, hearing us out with our prototypes, showing us their processes, giving feedback, thoughts, and opinions in surgeon lounges, hospital hallways, and the operating rooms, and telling us what is working and what isn't. They helped us make the product the best that we can”, said Fanson.

That product has now been used in over 20,000 total hip replacement procedures in the US, Canada, and Australia - a pretty remarkable feat, considering the first commercial case was only performed back in 2016.

When asked if he ever envisioned hitting 20,000 hip procedures, Bakirtzian notes, “these were the milestones we envisioned and hoped for when we founded Intellijoint in 2010. In hindsight, we now appreciate how difficult it is for a start-up to achieve commercial success and we are so thankful to be at that stage as a team. We are fortunate to have an amazing support system and a phenomenal team dedicated to realizing our mission and vision. “

Dr. Karas using Intellijoint HIP
Dr. Karas using the Intellijoint HIP Navigation System

What was once just an idea has now become a reality, but the magnitude and the meaningfulness of getting to 20,000 are not lost on the three co-founders of Intellijoint. I asked them to reflect on the surgeons and the care staff that have been with Intellijoint along this journey:

“The opportunity to earn surgeons' trust to serve their patients on an individualized basis with our technology is humbling. My message to surgeons and their patients is: thank you for your trust and know that we are committed to continued excellence in delivering our life-enhancing innovation to help surgeons care for their patients.” – Hladio

“I feel like a good chunk of what we know and what we've been able to build is because so many surgeons and staff were so considerate, friendly, and open with us, especially in the early days.” – Fanson

“Since a young age, I have been fortunate to see the positive impact orthopaedics make on the lives of patients. I have the utmost respect for surgeons, nurses, and their entire care teams. It is humbling that surgeons choose to work with Intellijoint, and now, have completed over 20,000 hip replacements with Intellijoint HIP. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for working with us and for trusting us to be your partner.” – Bakirtzian

But the work isn’t done yet - not even close. “I view 20,000 as a good start - and I'm excited to help many, many more patients as we execute our mission”, Hladio notes.

A sentiment echoed by Bakirtzian - “20,000 means we are on the right track. It also means we have a lot of work ahead of us as we are just scratching the surface of our opportunity to make the largest impact possible.”

So, here’s to the next 20,000! And here's to everyone who made the first 20,000 possible!

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