Over the last few years, TSB has questioned the legitimacy regarding many of the practices and business models that have been established in the spine industry. Some have attacked us, claiming socialistic values and making various claims. Accusations aside, TSB thought it would be interesting to get our readers take on the title of today's post, "Is There Anything That Money Can't Buy in Spine?" Wouldn't a moral debate about the the limits or no limits of the spine market enable us to decide where our market serves the public good, and where it truly doesn't belong?
Has the spine industry become an extension of a greater problem that our country and society have become, whereby we have drifted from a free market into a society where everything is for sale? How do we value the goods and services that we provide and offer on a daily basis? These questions are not merely economic interrogatories, they are moral and political questions. Have we, and are we commoditizing our personal and business relationships, the same way that we have commoditized the industry? Not only have the products become commodities, so have the surgeons, the reps, and the companies.
Today, we are no longer a unified industry. We have become factions and camps resulting in an almost like underground economy where everyone attempts to stay two steps ahead of rules and regulations. Ever make a sales call where the surgeon seated across from you states that if you provide his program with an endowment or grant you can do business at his facility? Of course, the check must be written to him personally, and he will redistribute the monies. Ever make a sales call and the surgeon asks if your company is looking for a consultant to work on "some" project? Have you ever been asked by a distributor whether you were looking to make more money as a surgeon? Or how about our favorite, "if you buy me a home on the gulf, I'll promise you $3 million in business every year." The parlous state of our industry should be a concern to everyone regardless whether you are Medtronic or Brand X. Advancing technology should not be the only innovative solution the industry should focus on. As more and more people rationalize their behavior and beliefs, the question must be asked, are we heading in the right direction, or does the industry truly need a correction? Obviously, the gnomes at AdvaMed, or NASS, or AANS will tell you otherwise. Someone has to make a stand, eventually.
Markets don't pass judgement on results, all markets want to know is how much is something worth and is it for sale, each participant must decide on the value of the exchanged. So what price are you paying for working in an industry where everything is up for sale? TSB wants to know. Is there hope, or are we heading to that grifter industry that we really would like to be?