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Chinese Orthopedic Association

Home > News > Chinese Orthopedic Association

Winter 2011 Newsletter Feature

Reporting from The Sixth International Congress of Chinese Orthopedic Association

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In a country where the Central Government felt it necessary to increase (from 850 billion yuan initially announced in 2009 to a now 1.13 trillion yuan) the expenditure amount they would invest in healthcare through 2011, and in a nation where the demographic profile of its 1.3 billion citizens is forecasted by 2050 to include over 320 million people over the age of 65, China’s demand for healthcare services and products is rising at a tremendous pace. China is currently in the midst of a healthcare boom where both business-minded medical companies and practicing medical professionals have the opportunity to participate. Medical companies are able to introduce products to China and gain an early foothold in a relatively immature and growing market while physicians and patients benefit from the introduction of innovative medical products as well as the influx of cutting edge surgical techniques. Despite the anticipated growth (according to a 2009 CICC report, sales of orthopedic products in spine, joint, and trauma segments are expected to run at a 16~19% CAGR pace through 2015), China still lags behind many developed countries in per capita healthcare spending. 2007 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states China’s per capita healthcare spending at just USD $121 while the figure for the USA and Japan were USD $7,290 and USD $2,581 respectively. It stands to reason that the Chinese government will continue to pour resources into China’s healthcare industry, and the commercial and regulatory landscape within China will continue to develop.

Highlink Partners strives to maintain our position on the leading edge of China’s healthcare market development through ongoing communication with Key Opinion Leader (KOL) doctors and participation in industry events. Recently we attended the Sixth International Congress of Chinese Orthopedic Association (“COA”). The COA is the most prestigious orthopedic-focused symposium in China each year and consistently attracts medical experts from around the world. It is an excellent forum for understanding the China orthopedic market developments and trends.

COA 2011 Highlights

The Sixth International Congress of Chinese Orthopedic Association took place from December 1-4, 2011. This annual symposium, attended by professionals and companies from the orthopedic space, is the largest and most influential gathering of its kind in China each year. The COA strives to engage the orthopedics community in scientific exchange, educate the masses about orthopedic topics, and improve the level of orthopedic care.

COA currently touts a membership count in excess of 130,000 with over 30,000 of the members being practicing orthopedic surgeons. The COA includes 10 sub-societies: Joint Surgery, Spine Surgery, Foot & Ankle Surgery, Minimally Invasive Surgery, Trauma, Arthroscopy, Bone Tumor, Osteoporosis, Orthopedic Research, and Nursing. International collaborators include the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), AO Foundation, Asia Pacific Arthroplasty Society (APAS), Chinese Speaking Orthopedic Society (CSOS), European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT), Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopedic Sports Medicine (ISAKOS), Société Internationale de Chirurgie Orthopédique et de Traumatologie (SICOT), and the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS). Many of these organizations held concurrent meetings with COA 2011.

The 4 day agenda in Beijing included seminars presented by medical experts from around the world, workshops geared towards surgeons and researchers, and exhibition booths promoting domestic and foreign orthopedic products. Preliminary figures estimate over 15,000 participants at COA 2011 with almost as many medical abstracts submitted for consideration. On the exhibition side, over 200 exhibitors showcased products during this 2011 installment, more than twice the number in 2006 during the First International Congress of Chinese Orthopedic Association.

Clinical and Commercial Focus Areas

tl_files/gallery/News/COA program at a glance (3).JPGThe featured topics of COA 2011 included clinical research and development in the fields of spine surgery, trauma, joint surgery, arthroscopy, sports medicine, bone tumors, osteoporosis, foot and ankle surgery, minimally invasive techniques, pediatric orthopaedics and nursing and rehabilitation.

Among the many events and symposia held at COA 2011, by far the most popular sessions involved orthopedic Trauma. The Trauma lectures were all held in the largest ballrooms available at the CNCC with seating capacity of approximately 1,300 people. Still, the Trauma lectures scheduled for days two and three all ended up being standing room only. This demand may be attributed to the fact that most young, practicing surgeons start with Trauma cases and therefore, most orthopedic surgeons are “Trauma-capable” prior to specializing (e.g. spinal surgeon, joint surgeon, etc.). A participating doctor from Beijing 301 PLA Hospital added that many orthopedic cases are considered orthopedic traumas (or many orthopedic cases will include some trauma), so it makes sense for the high level of participation in the Trauma lectures and meetings. Yet another surgeon described a burgeoning Chinese society which continues to seek out a more active lifestyle which may lead to increasing cases of orthopedic trauma (i.e. lifestyle changes such as automobile purchases and urbanization).

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In terms of new and innovative surgical techniques and products, professionals attending COA 2011 were quick to point out minimally invasive surgical techniques (“MIS”) for orthopedics as a relatively new discussion topic for COA. Minimally invasive surgical techniques are not yet broadly used among Chinese orthopedic surgeons, primarily due to MIS options being less established and less familiar to surgeons. However, the Chinese medical community is aware of this deficiency and is keen for access to new products and techniques.

It was noted during the Opening Ceremony that the roster of 200+ exhibitors this year included more foreign companies (about 1/3)  than in previous COA sessions, a sign that the healthcare landscape in China, both opportunities and areas of deficiencies, aren’t escaping the sights of major orthopedics players. Zimmer, Depuy, Medtronic, Smith-Nephew, LDR Medical, Stryker, Komet Medical, and Arthrocare to name a few were all foreign exhibitors with MIS products at COA 2011. Chinese companies such as Trauson, Weigao, Kanghui, Dean Medical, Bonovo, Microport, Sanyou, Naton Medical Group, and Suzhou Kangli also participated in the COA exhibition.

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Through ongoing dialogue with the Chinese medical community, we are able to see the direction of the device market from the standpoints of clinical treatment and product demand. One key takeaway from COA 2011 is that Chinese orthopedic surgeons are eager to develop their capabilities and to have the opportunity to integrate new techniques and products into their practice, if doing so can in turn achieve improved clinical results for their patients. COA’s mission is to facilitate this knowledge transfer between the international medical communities to those within China. Evidenced by the overfilling lecture halls, the crowded exhibition floors, and the participation of leaders from major International Societies such as AO Spine and SRS, the event was able to achieve this important goal.