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Zoning In with Doug Kohrs

Doug Kohrs has more than 30 years of experience in the medical device industry, holding leadership roles at start-ups and large companies. Mr. Kohrs wants to be a catalyst for change in the orthopaedic industry in his current role as Managing Director of Responsive Orthopedics, a new company that recently received its first 510(k) for a total knee system and is focused on value-based healthcare solutions.

Mr. Kohrs served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Tornier N.V. from 2006 to 2012. He currently serves as President of the Foundation for Essential Needs and sits on the Board of Directors of Proto Labs, Bio2 Technologies, MedShape and Innova Spine. Additionally, he is Chairman of the Board of Tenex Health, SEED Partners and SmartZyme Innovation.

BONEZONE spoke to Mr. Kohrs to learn how companies of all sizes can tackle their unique challenges and to get his take on what's in store for the orthopaedic industry.

BONEZONE: What are the biggest challenges start-up companies face today? What about large companies?

Kohrs: The biggest challenge for small start-ups usually revolves around money. Most people think that inventing is the hard part. It's not. Getting what you invented to market is the hard part. Getting an innovative product to market as a smaller industry player requires significant financial resources, and most companies come close to running out of money multiple times before they achieve ultimate success.

If you are a larger company, capital is usually not an issue, so the biggest challenge revolves around execution risk. The largest threat to keeping and growing your market share is lethargy. This slowdown is usually caused by a combination of caution and risk management. Another roadblock to success is a constant reshuffling of people and strategy.

BONEZONE: How can start-up companies overcome that challenge?

Kohrs: Start-up company management teams can make sure they invest and spend their precious funds like it is their own money. This behavior forces you to prioritize your activities around the ultimate prize and not divert resources off the critical path.

BONEZONE: How can large companies overcome their challenges?

Kohrs: Large companies can remember that large, medium or small, SPEED is the real currency of a growth company. The best employees are attracted to a compelling vision and a sense of urgency behind that vision. If one or both of these is missing, the best people will gravitate away from you.

BONEZONE: What does the orthopaedic industry look like to you in five years? Ten years?

Kohrs: In five years, I believe the orthopaedic industry will have transitioned to a focus on the entire episode of patient care. Those companies that have solutions for the entire patient experience will be the winners. This "patient bundle" will include the pre-op, surgical, and 90-day post-op time periods. Successful companies and practices will offer a bundle of all three at a very economical price and this will lead to billions of dollars of savings for the healthcare system. I can't predict if the "fee for service" world will be completely eliminated in five years, but I believe it should be.

In ten years, I believe the power in the orthopaedic market will have completely shifted to the patient. You can argue today about which stakeholders hold the power, but it is probably a combination of physicians, hospitals and insurers. The commercial insurers are already sitting on various pieces of this "big data"—they just can't share it. I expect there to be legislation and industry partnerships in the years ahead to drive data transparency across the industry. Ten years from now, we should have complete price transparency and complete clinical outcome transparency by physician and practice that will allow the prospective patient to pick the best doctor, clinic and hospital for her surgery. This will clearly put the patient in the driver's seat from both an economical and outcomes perspective.

BONEZONE: What advice would you like to share with orthopaedic industry professionals?

Kohrs: My advice for orthopaedic industry professionals revolves around the great opportunity I see in orthopaedics. Orthopaedics may seem at the moment like a mature industry, but that is about to change. The future will be very exciting as new innovative business models will be embraced by the government, insurers and hospitals. The beneficiaries of these new industry dynamics will be the patient and those companies that realize that this change is inevitable.


What executive would you like to see featured? Send your thoughts to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and read lessons learned from past Zoning In interviews.

Doug Kohrs moderated the CEO keynote address at OMTEC 2015.

To learn more about the presentation, The State and Future
of the Orthopaedic Industry - CEO Interview, click here.