By Renée Jean, Tourism and Business Reporter
A Wyoming company is trying not just one grand new concept, but two in the orthopedics sector. Both have game-changing potential for the medical and business financial industries.
McGinley Orthopedics in Casper has developed a smartphone approach for traditional orthopedics equipment. Two products using the concept are already available, but the company has 125 patents issued or pending overall, so many more are on the way.
The company’s flagship product is the Intellisense Drill. It is a regular orthopedic drill like a surgeon would use to repair a broken bone, but what makes it unique is robotics, owner Joseph McGinley told Cowboy State Daily.
Repairing bones as a process has not significantly changed for decades. Essentially, a surgeon manually drills through bone with the equivalent of an ordinary power drill so that screws can be set to hold the bones together, he said.
Through experience — which also means some trial and error — the surgeon learns the right feel for when the drill has just made it through the bone. After that, the surgeon manually measures the correct size of screws that will be needed by placing a tiny hook through the hole and reading a ruler, he said.
“Right now, that’s the standard of care everywhere,” McGinley said. “So, if you look at the standard error rate on these particular surgeries, published studies show that about 20 to 25% of screws are misplaced. They’re either too long or too short.
“That’s considered standard of care – if you can imagine that in any other industry, where you have an acceptable error rate of 20 to 25%.”
Improving Standard Of Care
McGinley’s smart drill, meanwhile, integrates sensors into the handheld tool so it can automatically sense when to stop, he said. There’s no more guessing.
“There’s no plunging and damage of tissue on the other side,” McGinley said. “And then it tells the surgeon exactly what size screw they need. It’s accurate to two-tenths of a millimeter, so there’s no more error.”
The process is not only better for patients, it’s less time-consuming for the surgeon by eliminating some of the steps that used to be required, such as using a depth gauge to select the right size screw.
“A lot of times (doctors) will bring in fluoroscopy or X-rays to check the screws to see if they’re right,” McGinley said. “That’s radiation to everyone. That’s radiation to the patient and radiation to the ER staff.
“With our products, what we’re seeing is the surgeons, over time, trust the product and they diminish the use, or completely eliminate, the use of X-ray in the operating room to check the screws.”
Stepping Up For Wrist Fractures
The other product McGinley has released is a plate to better align bones after a wrist fracture.
Wrist fractures are the most common fracture, McGinley said, as people naturally reach out with a hand to break a fall.
“Right now, if you have a fracture at the wrist, it’s based on the skillset of the surgeon how well the outcomes are after that case,” McGinley said. “A lot of it is fairly complicated getting those fractures realigned perfectly, right where your joints move or your wrist moves. That’s actually a hard task.”
If the alignment is not perfect, it can cause debilitating pain and restriction of movement in the wrist long-term. It also can cause early onset of arthritis.
McGinley’s device has levering blades that go into the fragments, after which the surgeon can fine-tune the alignment with the twist of a screwdriver.
“With our plate for wrist fractures, or lever-action distal radius plates, you can essentially get near perfect alignment every time, when used correctly,” he said.
One orthopedic surgeon in Wyoming is already using both products, Dr. Ben Francisco, who works for Fremont Orthopedics. He told Cowboy State Daily he’s been happy with what he’s seen from the tools.
“To my knowledge there’s nothing else like this on the market,” he said. “I would hope that use would be widespread.”
Main Street Becomes Wall Street
The devices themselves are innovative enough, but the company also is the first in Wyoming to take advantage of a relatively new federal Securities and Exchange Commission structure that lets Main Street invest directly in privately held companies.
Minimum investments under this Main Street model can begin as low as $100, while the Wall Street approach generally requires a minimum investment of six figures or more.
Typically, a new company like McGinley Orthopedics would start with personal funding, as well as loans from family and friends, to get off the ground, McGinley said. After that, the business would seek money from private equity investment bankers.
“They would come in and own a large portion of the company and grow it from there,” he said of the equity bankers.
That leaves Main Street investors out in the cold for these types of lucrative deals, which generally require minimum investments of six figures or more.
New Way To Invest
The Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act has a little-known provision allowing businesses to go through an almost-public process so they can raise money directly from the Main Street investors, bypassing Wall Street altogether.
“Essentially, you put in the infrastructure as if you were going public, but you don’t go public,” McGinley explained. “You’re still a privately held company. You register with the SEC, they review the application and make sure everything’s legitimate, and then they sign off on it.”
That means the money raised still has SEC oversight, unlike crowdfunding online. That oversight includes the customary auditing of financials as well as regulatory scrutiny, McGinley said.
“We run this as if we’re publicly traded,” he said. “That’s why when someone registers (to invest) they have to enter their information, because it is an SEC-registered security.”
Retains Full Control
The benefit, McGinley said, for companies doing it this way is the owner retains full control of the business.
Wall Street equity owners generally gain large amounts of control over the businesses they invest in. They could, for example, order a business like McGinley’s to choose a new headquarters closer to a large metropolitan market.
That would make some business sense, at least initially, by giving the company instant access to a larger metropolitan markets and better logistics for certain supply chains.
But McGinley wants his company to remain in Wyoming so it can benefit his state.
He also believes that, ultimately, Wyoming will be a good spot for a distribution center. In fact, other companies have recently selected the Cowboy State for distribution centers, such as Laube Inc., which manufactures high-end pet-grooming equipment. California-based Laube has confirmed it’s looking at Riverton for a distribution center to cut shipping cost.
Doing His Part
McGinley also likes the idea that he’s helping alleviate wealth inequities with this approach and hopes to see more businesses try it.
“I mean, we are essentially opening up access to everyone to have the opportunity to invest in an early stage startup,” he said. “This is a small step, but if things go in this direction on a large scale, this will help with that, because, you know, if all companies head this direction, then you, as an investor, can invest in the early stage.”
McGinley also sees where this could give his business a marketing advantage. As people hear about how much better the outcomes are with his smart orthopedic products, they can ask their surgeons or seek out surgeons who agree to use them.
McGinley says his company is the first in Wyoming to use this financing structure, and he’s very proud of that.
“Our company has approximately 30 employees, and another cool thing about it is that all these products are made in Wyoming,” he said. “We have manufacturing in Glenrock, Wyoming, so an FDA-registered facility right over in Glenrock that makes all of these products we’re talking about. You literally can design the product, prototype it, build it and use it all within the state.”