What a night for a dance, you know I'm a dancing machine, with fire in my bones and the sweet smell of kerosene, I got lost in the night so high, I didn't want to come down, to face the loss of the good thing that I once found.
In the dark of the night, I could hear you calling out my name (NASS, NASS, NASS) With the hardest of hearts I still feel your pain, So I drink and I smoke, and I ask if you're ever around, even though it was you who drove us into the ground. See the time we shared, it was precious to me, But all the while I was dreaming revelry.
Fellow bloggers, do you remember the days when each and everyone of you were excited about making that arduous trek to the industry's annual pilgrimage, the mecca of the spine industry, NASS? A necessary evil, but always a worthwhile experience? Not only did you get the opportunity to spend time with surgeon/customers, and fellow spineophiles, people actually enjoyed each others company. Somewhere along the journey, something happened. At times you almost feel like you are a character in the Book of Eli. Based on many accounts by viable sources, NASS is on the verge of having to re-invent itself, or lose the interest of its patrons. This meeting is no longer the darling of the industry. It makes going to the dentist a welcome respite. You know what Linda Richmond use to say on SNL, can we talk? We are no longer the visionary industry that use to amaze people with our creativity and talent. As one of your own peers opined, "All the presenters are bought and paid for, and there are no new toys to exhibit." Today, the industry has become a by product of Wall Street. Rather than questioning social utility, we should be asking ourselves whether we are providing any clinical utility to the patient public? We are resting on our laurels. The leaders of NASS and its slavish followers, the spine company CEO's, the analysts, and people like the Robin Young's and Viscogliosi's of this world, dominate over who can show the least innovation and vision, show the least concern about the future of spine, with a willingness to pander to short-term narrow minded selfishness. It's all about enhancing one's portfolio. It's all about smoke and mirrors. It is all about the Benjamin's. Yet, our bloggers are crying out for something new, and something breakthrough. But when will that happen, and how will that happen? Part of the challenge will be to re-focus and understand that the industry needs to stop worrying about politics, and reinvest in its future. That's what made this industry great. You know what they say, you have to spend money (sometimes some of your own) to make money. This industry needs to wake up and realize that they need to stop behaving like they are part of Wall Street, and start spending more time worrying about long-term viability. Stop pontificating about Obama care.
Many of you have blogged that you love your job, the fact that you are part of the O.R. team that plays an integral role in caring for people, even if that role is peripheral. Please continue to believe. Many people in this industry do not share that vision. Yet, don't be discouraged. Some people will blame you, and your right to earn a living as the reason for an out-of-control healthcare economy, don't despair, this is the new entitlement generation that is not accountable for anything. As you walk around today, ask yourself this question, is there anything really innovative at this meeting?
As for consultancies, all one has to do is attend a scientific or clinical presentation to understand the absurdity of the industry. Everyone is a consultant. If surgeons believe that reps are driving up the cost of healthcare, whom do you think absorbs the cost of paying consultants? Many of you have had the same out of body experience listening to a surgeon on the dais pontificate about their clinical experience with a product, only to walk away thinking, either I'm an idiot, or did that person say anything new? The surgeons have become corporate lackeys, bought and paid for. Lobbyists at best. As the legacy companies complain about the "ankle biters" creating a pernicious business environment, you have only yourselves to blame. Today, you all hide behind AdvaMed, while flagellating yourselves, crying out Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa! Do you hear us Medtronic, Stryker? Biomet? DePuy? Zimmer? Synthes? As the teachers, you taught your students well.
So in closing, maybe its time the people that work in the trenches and on the street take back this industry. If the CEO's aren't willing to do it, then it's time for us to throw the garbage can through the pizzeria window, and say DO THE RIGHT THING. If you really believe that we need change, don't plan on going to NASS next year. Don't attend the Spine Technology Awards. Besides, the cost of these meetings are criminal. Bacon and Baker should be embarrassed. Hurt the powers that run NASS where it hurts, in their pocketbook. They have become complacent and fat. Don't pander to a surgeon's demands for a consulting agreement. The next time you get your quota, don't be afraid to ask the Regional Manager, the VP of Sales or even the CEO "where is the innovation" to justify such an increase in quota. TSB wants to know what you think? Will you run, or will you fight?