Structured medical device data.
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Structured medical device data.

What is it? Where does it come from? And why do we need it?

Part 1: Medical device data is typically fractured and limited.

Medical device registration is required for all new devices by the US Food and Drug Administration. Post-registration, after receiving further approval and quality regulation, the FDA requires:

“Labeling – on the device as well as descriptive and informational literature that accompanies the device.” - Overview of Device Regulation, FDA website

That vague description has resulted in a wide difference in device manufacturing companies’ policies regarding gathering, maintaining, and publishing internal device data. As supply chain and distribution has evolved, most information (like product number, general description, and category) is made public so that customers and distributors can properly procure products.

Those descriptions often look something like this:

Product Number: YRC-02




Product Number: AR-1926BC

Manufacturer: ARTHREX INC


This information is enough to order a product from a particular manufacturer and have a general classification check of the item ordered. But, is that the best item for the facility’s need? Are there other suture anchors that would work just as well? What about price? Is that price competitive?

Traditionally, teams of analysts embark on long excel-spreadsheet quests to answer those questions. First, they must attempt to relate product categories and then check pricing. The two products above are both searchable as ‘suture anchors’, but are they equivalent products? Should they have the same price? With data structure similar to that above, those are impossible questions to answer.

The Relatable Healthcare platform takes a more unique approach to data standardization, collection, and retention compared to traditional methods. Using simple templates, medical device data is uploaded into Relatable creating a more robust structure. The two products and descriptions from above would be broken-out and appear like this:

Company: ConMed

Description:  3.5mm PopLok Suture Anchor w/One #2 Hi-Fi® Suture (11mm length)

System: PopLok

Product Number: ckp3501

Quantity: 1

Diameter (mm): 3.50

Insertion Method: Pound-in

Knot Type: Knotless

Material: PEEK

Number of Pre-Loaded Suture/Ribbon: 1

Possible Procedures: Rotator Cuff Repair, PASTA Repair, Shoulder Reconstruction

Suture and/or Ribbon: Suture

Media Links: Example Pictures, Techniques, Videos


Company: Arthrex

Description: Biocomposite Pushlock, 3.5 mm × 19.5 mm - AR-1926BC

System: PushLock

Product Number: ar1926bc

Quantity: 1

Diameter (mm): 3.50

Insertion Method: Pound-in

Knot Type: Knotless

Material: Biocomposite

Number of Pre-Loaded Suture/Ribbon: 0

Possible Procedures: Shoulder and Elbow Reconstruction

Suture and/orRibbon: Suture orRibbon

Media Links: Example Pictures, Techniques, Videos

Part 2: Well-structured data.

Do those two products still seem like comparable suture anchors?

Using the Relatable data structure, we can now determine that both suture anchors are 3.5mm in diameter, pound-in, knotless, and are used in shoulder repairs. The ConMed product is PEEK and comes loaded with 1 suture, while the Arthrex product is biocomposite and does not come loaded with a suture. If anchor material is important to a physician, or the physician does not prefer to load sutures, Relatable would argue that these are not like-products.

Relatable’s structure creates an easy, direct way to pinpoint feature and price point differences. It allows both administrators and physicians to scrutinize their product choice, cost, and alternative choices.

Well-structured data drives instantaneous product comparisons, and allows anyone using Relatable to define what is being compared. Are you looking for all sutures 4.5mm in diameter, PEEK material, knotted, screw-in, with 3 pre-loaded sutures? How about an average cost of polyethylene all-suture anchors? Do you have a product you already use and just want to see what other similar products are out there? Relatable’s customizable algorithms do the work for you, selecting devices with the specifications that you choose.

Sounds great, but how is this going to help me?

Thanks for asking.

If you are part of a healthcare organization, Relatable will help you analyze your PPI, device, and supply spend – identifying outliers, price creep, and easy financial wins. It will also help you identify surgeon outliers, conversion opportunities, achievable rebate goals, and long-term standards for sustainable medical device spend. Relatable will give you knowledge about products, existing manufacturers, and new manufacturers all at your fingertips. Discussions between administrators, surgeons, and their peers suddenly become informative and actionable, helping catalyze collaborative financial savings.

If you are a device manufacturer, Relatable can help you analyze your own products internally and respond to external RFPs. Relatable’s drill downs help manufacturers identify product positioning gaps, product portfolio holes, and sales opportunities using usage data. The product-comparison algorithms are customizable and manufacturers can respond to thousand-line RFPs within minutes, utilizing just one person on the Relatable platform.

We would love to continue the discussion around data, devices, and financial performance. If you have any further thoughts, concerns, or would like to learn more – visit Relatable’s website, blog, or contact us directly.