In 1999, Chad Munro a native of New Glasgow was working in Switzerland for an orthopaedic and neuro products and services company when he took an interest in phased innovation pioneered by Dr. Michael Gross of Halifax in the mid 1990’s. It is based on the principle that all new orthopaedic devices be clinically validated in a small clinical study before broad market release.
Realizing the potential in phased innovation, Munro founded Halifax Biomedical Inc. in 2004 and ran his company out of Mabou in rural Cape Breton. The company is developing stereo radiography (SR) technology that provides solutions to two of the largest problems in orthopaedics: instability of the spine, and loosening of implants such as hip and knee replacements. Both problems are difficult to detect and measure objectively and accurately in three dimensions. Much in the way houses shift and settle over time, implants do the same thing after initial implantation. This is common and it isn’t always a problem, but sometimes it can lead to patients experiencing pain or other symptoms that need to be treated.
“We found several surgeons were interested in using our specialized measurements for making clinical decisions. Our knee monitoring technology helps surgeons to identify patients who have stable and well-fixed implants and those who are a risk of early failure due to poor bonding of the implant,” says Munro.
The benefits of the technology are more than just physical. Patients who are well fixed have peace of mind knowing that complication will not affect them, eliminating unnecessary stress and worry. For those who are identified as being at risk, they will receive a greater amount of clinical monitoring allowing for an earlier intervention and hopefully better long term results.
Having the ability to mark and accurately measure patient implant instability has become a growing necessity in many regions with an aging active population. The technology has been well received in the U.S where Halifax Biomedical has had two major milestones last year- first receiving FDA approval for their measurement software that can determine if an implant is loose and second, they secured new medical procedure codes from the American Medical Association that allows hospitals to describe and code the use of their technology to request payment from insurance companies. These changes were significant and have greatly reduced the barriers of adoption for their U.S clients.
Halifax Biomedical now has a lead US site in Chicago that has used the stereo radiography technology on over 2000 patients and they’ve also just secured two major clients, one in Tennessee and one in California who are implementing their monitoring system as part of their regular clinical monitoring program. Munro is also optimistic that the company will be adding a fourth large customer to the mix soon and provides some insight into the company’s future.
“Our focus over the next two years is to deliver extremely high quality products and services to these early adopter giants as we continue to clinically validate the patient and economic benefits of our monitoring technology and companion interventions,” says Munro.
As for when the technology will be available in Canada, Munro says there’s a large cost barrier that differentiates Canada and the U.S. when it comes to clinical adoption. In the U.S. large hospitals are willing to invest in a pilot study for three to four years and if it saves them money or improves patient outcomes then they roll it out to the rest of their system. In Canada, each province acts quite independently and health departments must see data showing how the technology will save money and improve outcomes before they will pay. Munro has applied to receive reimbursement for the use of his technology in a pilot program in Nova Scotia, a province he says is a perfect market fit for his orthopaedic technology and a perfect fit for him personally.
“We like it here and we want to be here. It’s a supportive and culturally rich community surrounded by best in world scenery and a positive environment to raise a family.”