Ossis offers hope with its prosthetic implants
Knowing your work is going to end up helping someone walk or improve the quality of their life is one of the perks of the job for Christchurch-based Ossis managing director Paul Morrison.
He recently took over the reins as manager but has been a shareholder and director of the Ossis parent company over many years.
Ossis is the only southern hemisphere certified company to manufacture and custom fit human joint implants.
Mostly they are for patients who have suffered cancer or other diseases, and in some cases can require rebuilding half a pelvis.
* Man gets new hip courtesy of 3-D printer
A recent case involved a man in the US who lost a leg and part of his pelvis. He read about Ossis on the internet and may now receive a hip implant which will allow him sit up.
Other cases involve hip replacements that have worn, or the bone has deteriorated, or there were complications in surgery.
The implants are made by Ossis staff who have expertise in aspects of biomechanical engineering and computer aided design for 3-D printing of the plastic and titanium implants. They use CT scans to create accurate shapes.
Ossis also uses a US company and a local firm with traditional machining to finish them in preparation for insertion, usually by surgeons who have been working with the company for many years, such as specialist James Burn.
But Ossis also has a global reach and about 60 per cent of turnover is from customers overseas.
A turning point in the development of Ossis came after the 2011 earthquakes when equipment and customers were lost.
A small government grant tided the company over, allowing restructuring and introduction of new expertise in the form of director Dave Body.
Morrison attributes Body with the drive and business knowledge to refocus the company on revenue and sales growth with the benefit of digital technology.
Morrison said too many technology companies lose their focus and time is taken up with meetings and people wanting to help rather than dealing with the actual business of helping staff carry out their work and communicating with clients.
"It's easy to carried away with technology. Just because we can do something doesn't necessarily mean we should. Sometimes implants don't make sense clinically because they may not provide the best outcome for the patient.
"We've turned down cases surgeons were exploring and we've had to say it's not the right option. The patient may have existing conditions or cancer or diabetes or a high infection risk. It's not a good idea to have an implant too near the skin.
"Implants can be expensive though in the whole-of-care situation they're not because they make people mobile again and allow them to go back to work and live a quality life.
"Over time they're becoming cheaper as the technology evolves."
A common questions is, "how do you know they will fit"?
"Because we've done hundreds and have the experience. We try to keep as much bone as possible because it's attached to muscle.
"We're very privileged to help people get their lives on track. It's a team effort."
An unrelated company, in terms of shareholders and directors, is OssAbility which operates in the same building.
It also produces high-tech 3-D implants, but for animals.