Stryker continues tradition of supporting research
In the past three years, Stryker has provided more than $1 million in unrestricted funding to the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF)—the highest level of unrestricted corporate support from any orthopaedic company.
“At Stryker we believe research is a critically important part of the ongoing evolution and development of the orthopaedic industry, and the broader medical device industry as well,” explains Patrick Anderson, Stryker’s vice president of strategy and communications.
A history of research
This belief in research has a long tradition at Stryker, beginning with Homer Stryker, MD, the company’s founder. Dissatisfied with some of the products he was using, Dr. Stryker began inventing new products, hoping to provide his patients with better care.
One of his first inventions, the walking heel, brought mobility to patients who had broken their legs and had to be in casts. His turning frame provided an easier way to turn patients confined to hospital beds for extended periods, resulting in reduced blood clots and skin problems.
And, although it has been updated from the original version, the oscillating saw developed by Dr. Stryker is still used today as a cast cutter, which lets doctors remove casts easily without injuring their patients.
Dr. Stryker began showing his inventions to orthopaedists and other medical personnel. Within a few years, he had received so many requests for his products that he founded the Orthopedic Frame Company in 1941. When Dr. Stryker retired from his medical practice in 1964, the company name was changed to Stryker Corporation.
A healthy dissatisfaction
According to Anderson, Dr. Stryker’s curiosity and determination still exists in orthopaedic surgeons today.
“We often find that after we introduce a new product, a surgeon will contact us and say, ‘That instrument set you have is really good, but if you added a curve to this particular instrument, it would be even better,’” he says.
“Today’s products and procedures evolve with the input of surgeons who use them to perform surgery every day,” Anderson continues. “Orthopaedic surgeons want to know whether there is a way that they can see better or make sure that the cut is smoother or faster. They want to minimize the amount of time the patient has to be under anesthesia and to optimize the outcome. We constantly receive feedback from surgeons, and it’s that feedback that advances the state of the art in orthopaedic surgery.”
Anderson also points out that surgeons other than orthopaedists have found ways to apply Stryker’s products.
“Medical professionals are continually looking for better ways to treat patients and to help improve lives,” he says. “At Stryker we listen and then respond. It’s been very interesting to see how certain technologies that were originally introduced in one area are now being used in other specialties.”
The curiosity that continues to drive the company since Dr. Stryker first introduced his inventions has helped make Stryker an industry leader. In 2005, Stryker had $4.9 billion in net sales; orthopaedic products and services accounted for nearly $4 billion.
Responding to changes
How does supporting OREF fit the company’s vision? Anderson, who works with Stryker’s 13 divisions to prepare annual strategic plans, says that it has to do with providing the best products and services, not only because orthopaedists want them, but also because the changing lifestyles of the population demand them.
“An increasing percentage of the population is overweight, and people are putting additional strain on their bones and joints. In addition, many people are much more active than they were a generation or two ago. The combination of these two factors creates new needs in orthopaedics that did not previously exist,” Anderson explains. Finally, people are living longer.
By providing young physicians the opportunity to become involved in research, Anderson believes that OREF funding encourages research that leads to the discovery of fresh, new ideas.
“In many cases, companies who are looking for researchers think about finding a seasoned professional who has developed a reputation of being a good researcher and thought leader,” says Anderson. This presents a problem for younger doctors who are still at early stages in their careers.
“Young researchers need the opportunity to conduct research and establish their reputations. OREF provides opportunities that might not otherwise be available. This is a tremendous advantage,” says Anderson, “because you find younger people with new thoughts and ideas.”
Anderson also believes that OREF plays a vitally important role as an independent source of research and education that can provide perspective for the entire industry. “Objective research, without any preconceived ideas, is a great benefit to the orthopaedic industry,” he agrees.
OREF and industry
A strong and productive alliance with industry enables OREF to fund quality programs that advance the orthopaedic profession, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes (see sidebar on page 9). Recently, OREF corporate associates have helped to fund the following initiatives:
Technical exhibitors who want to discuss how their companies can collaborate with OREF to further their strategic interests should contact Judy Sherr, vice president of corporate relations at (847) 384-4356 or email@example.com; or Ivy Gard, corporate relations coordinator, at (847) 384-4355, or firstname.lastname@example.org.