Within the last few days and weeks, NuVasive, AlphaTec, and Trans 1, have reported quarterly earnings much to the dismay of the Street. I guess we could give ATEC an ever so-slight reprieve for exhibiting euphoria over 2% growth. Yet, it's been a difficult year in spine, let alone the healthcare industry. Most companies have lowered their guidance accordingly as the U.S. economy and healthcare continue to grind to a halt. Based on the last few investor calls, it seems that the industry is revitalizing an old game called, The Blame Game. No fellow bloggers, this isn't the game that is broadcast weekly on BBC radio hosted by Tim McGarry, nor is it the thirty minute 1999 MTV version. Yet, as Mr. McGarry would say, "Welcome to The Blame Game, the show where there are more cheap shots than at a student union bar." The victim is corporate America. The culprit is? Corporate America. The enemy is the Big Bad Insurance Industry. Today, spine stands at the proverbial fork in the road, and anyone that appreciates baseball would know the old Yogism, when you come to the fork in the road, take it. So we must ask our bloggers is, whom do we blame for this temporary potentially permanent derailment?
CEO's like Dvorak, Lukianov, Randall, and Kuyper must be reading each others press clippings. I mean imitation is the highest form or flattery, yet it breeds indifference. The new mission statement is "our sales have been adversely affected by a higher rate of insurance denials for lumbar surgery." These fellas must be practicing Ohm's law, whereby the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference across two points and inversely proportional to the resistance between them. Playing the blame game , or the crying game never works. It's a proven fact that people who blame others for their mistakes or failures usually lose face, or status, and, eventually perform worse than if they "fess up" to their failures. For argument's sake, let's say that we are in for a rough ride over the next few years, are we going to become an industry of excuses? If so, will this stunt our already declining ability in being creative and innovative, eventually reducing our productive risk taking? Could it be that there is a blame virus being spread throughout the industry? Remember the old saying you can't make Beef Wellington out of Bullshit.
The germ that these so-called leaders are spreading is protecting one's ego and more importantly one's self. This germ may be going viral. These difficult times will either bring out the best or the worst characteristic traits in these people. Hopefully, the industry as a whole is learning something about itself, like how to avoid making some of the same mistakes that we have made, by putting ourselves in this position. Complacency is sinister. The temptation is to point your finger at someone else. Could these individuals be showing signs of insecurity, a chink in their armor? Truly powerful leaders are man enough, or woman enough, to state, "the buck stops here." It's time to redirect your organizations. But the question is, do you have the ability to think out of the box, now that you have become slaves to the Street? That's the question that many of these leaders must answer. Are they willing to roll the dice and force the shareholders of these companies to make short-term sacrifices to preserve their long-term viability? Could the Blame Game create a cascading effect?
It's actually entertaining to listen to some of these power players discuss educating and working with the insurance industry. How much more do you want to kiss the ass of an industry that rapes and pillages healthcare. Rather than kissing the ass of the insurance industry, maybe its time to mobilize against it. But then playing the blame game, is no different than playing the crying game, and you know what Boy George sang;
Why there are heartaches, why there are tears, and what to do to stop feeling blue when love disappears.........
So the legacy companies will re-align their guidance and eat some humble pie, while the start-ups and early-growth stage companies will downsize their sales force, cut the budgets on research and development, surgeon training and travel. Sounds like some people are looking for survival, could be an appetite for destruction
Welcome to the jungle we got fun and games
We got everything you want
Honey we know the names
We are the people that can find whatever you may need
If you got the money honey We got your disease
In the jungle, Welcome to the jungle, watch it bring it to your knees