COVID-19 Resource Center
COVID-19 Resource Center
April 16, 2020
3 min read

Health care leaders seek orthopedic innovations for use during COVID-19 pandemic

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Members of the global orthopedic community are being called on to submit product, software and service ideas that will provide function and pain-alleviating support and meet the emerging needs of patients who have had their orthopedic surgery postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raymond Cloutier
Raymond Cloutier

Raymond Cloutier, CEO and founder of NovApproach Spine, announced he and a team of experts will select 10 of the most beneficial and practical submissions from the For Such a Time As This – OrthoChallenge with the hopes to help submitters fast-track their innovations to be used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are looking for ideas that will benefit orthopedic patients currently unable to receive surgical and non-surgical care,” Cloutier told Healio Orthopedics. “We believe this innovation effort will yield improved outcomes for patients even many years after the crisis is over.”

Call for innovations

According to the OrthoChallenge website, submissions should explain the problem, the solution and the reason the new product, software or service would:

  •  address or assist with musculoskeletal limitations of patients while they wait for their procedure to be done;
  •  reduce the chance that musculoskeletal issues will put patients at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19; and
  •  minimize the risk an orthopedic condition will affect morbidity or mortality if a patient contracts COVID-19.

Although no prize money is currently available to award the winning submissions, Cloutier said the panel hopes to provide an opportunity for the ideas to be brought to the FDA for feedback and to a group of medical device incubators who may be able to help speed the ideas to market.

“Our role is to serve as a conduit for innovation. The submitters will retain responsibility to bring their ideas to market,” Cloutier said. “We hope that the recognition and potentially some feedback from the FDA and other people will help the innovators bring their ideas to fruition.”

Due to urgent patient need, Cloutier said all submissions will be due by April 30, 2020, with the winning proposals to be announced in May 2020.

Resource for the future

The idea for the OrthoChallenge occurred to Cloutier as the COVID-19 pandemic began to fully impact and disrupt everyday living for people across the United States. The postponement of elective orthopedic surgical procedures placed patients at a disadvantage, and Cloutier realized orthopedic surgeons and industry members may be able to identify ways to help these patients in the interim.


“Some [orthopedic surgeons] are ‘rolling up their sleeves’ to help care for people stricken with COVID-19. Others are using this time to work on their research pursuits. But there is also a group that has extra time, energy and ideas that can help patients. These surgeons could serve orthopedic patients, but in an indirect way through our initiative,” Cloutier said.

Joseph D. Zuckerman
Joseph D. Zuckerman

Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, professor and chair of the department of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Health and co-sponsor of the OrthoChallenge, said he hopes the products and services identified in this initiative will not only improve patient quality of life while elective surgery is currently postponed, but will provide a resource for future cases of surgical postponement.

“I frequently see patients who need a joint replacement but because of their work responsibilities or their family responsibilities, they cannot get it done in a timely manner,” Zuckerman told Healio Orthopedics. “That is their own personal self-imposed delay and anything we come up with now can be utilized in those situations which are equally frustrating for patients and difficult because there is nothing they can do, not because of a pandemic, but because of their own personal situations.”

Cloutier also hopes this initiative inspires other medical specialties to create similar initiatives to help their patients who are unable to undergo surgery during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“The bigger picture is we hope ... that what we are doing for the orthopedic patients would be somehow replicated in other medical specialty groups because there are other groups that are out there that are also not getting their needed surgeries,” Cloutier said. – by Casey Tingle




Disclosures: Cloutier and Zuckerman report no relevant financial disclosures.


Editor’s note: The submission deadline for the For Such a Time as This – OrthoChallenge has been extended from April 30, 2020, to May 10, 2020.