April 09, 2019
2 min read

OrthoFounders: Orthopedic surgeons helping physicians become entrepreneurs

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

Orthopedic surgeons who are interested in starting a company but do not know how may have a solution. OrthoFounders is an organization aimed to help like-minded physicians innovate and create new startup companies with a goal to find solutions for problems in the health care system.

“Our general mission is to increase innovation by practicing orthopedic surgeons,” Michael T. Havig, MD, co-founder of OrthoFounders and orthopedic surgeon at OrthoCollier, told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “We all have these ideas, but we don’t know where to start. We think orthopedic surgeons are best suited to innovate in orthopedic surgery. We are the ones in the trenches, in the office seeing patients, in the OR, or on the business side in the office, so we understand the problems and solutions for them.”

Orthopedic surgeons becoming entrepreneurs

The idea for OrthoFounders came after a phone call between Havig and William B. Kurtz, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance, in which they discussed the intricacies of starting a company, building a software platform and marketing it. They reached out to John Jay Crawford, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic, who had more experience with startup companies.

In August 2018, OrthoFounders had its first informal meeting. Since then, OrthoFounders has had web meetings every 3 weeks. At the meetings, two companies each give a 7-minute pitch followed by critiques from other members, according to Havig. OrthoFounders now consists of more than 20 members.

“Most surgeons in the group knew two or three other surgeons who were starting companies, so we have just grown organically through word-of-mouth,” Kurtz, co-founder of OrthoFounders told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “Our only qualification to join our networking group is that the orthopedic surgeon has had a substantial role in starting the company and is willing to help the other members of the group.”

Kurtz said OrthoFounders wants to help educate and support orthopedic surgeons on starting a new company, as well as how to invest in these orthopedic startup companies.

We also hope to educate younger orthopedic surgeons on how to get involved with entrepreneurism early on in their careers, according to Crawford.

“[We] want people to build things that will make our lives better,” Crawford, a co-founder of OrthoFounders, told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “Secondly, we want to learn from each other on how to [create companies] better. By having OrthoFounders formed, we help each other, bounce ideas off each other and basically give each other advice.”


OrthoFounders members are diverse

Havig noted companies involved in OrthoFounders have produced software applications, orthopedic tools and devices, and alternative practice models.

Havig said OrthoFounders recruited six more companies interested in being part of the organization at this year’s American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. Companies showcased at the AAOS Annual Meeting included HealthMe, Catalyst OrthoScience, OrthoLive, Smart Medical Devices, Ziptek, Flexxline, JointPoint and VARISES.

“We’ve grown so fast in such little time,” Havig said. “We’re trying to focus on orthopedic surgeons who have founded or co-founded companies and are heavily involved in running them.”

Currently OrthoFounders is forming relationships with specialty societies, such as the Arthroscopy Association of North American and American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, to promote entrepreneurism and educate fellow orthopedic surgeons. Havig said he would like OrthoFounders to be the “go-to group” for education on entrepreneurism.

“We want to help surgeons fix the health care system,” Crawford said. “[We] think the actual source of those fixes will come from people who participate in health care all the time ... Surgeons will build the health care system for the next decade. It will work better for patients, payers and physicians.”– by Monica Jaramillo



Disclosures: Crawford, Havig and Kurtz report no relevant financial disclosures.