Assessing Treatment Plans — More than just China, which does isolation, but actually allow patients to travel. If they are at risk, set up help with treatment approaches and algorithms to set up patients at risk and then where they should follow up for specific treatments and/or what treatments could be available to help them. It could help the patients to eliminate exposure to others.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Peter Bonutti, M.D.
Dr. Peter Bonutti, M.D., co-founder & CEO of UVCeed, is a surgeon, inventor, author, professor, consultant, and entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience. He is the founder of Bonutti Research, a medical device incubator that has developed products and technology used around the world, including UVCeed, and maintains his clinical and surgical practice, focusing on adult knee and hip arthroplasty and integration of robotics into surgical procedures. Dr. Bonutti is a pioneer in Minimally Invasive Surgery, has over 500 patents and applications, more than 700 licenses and multiple FDA-approved products to date.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My parents gave me two choices: Become a priest, or become a doctor. I chose the latter and decided to study at the University of Chicago as a fifteen-year-old freshman. I went on to earn my medical degrees at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and completed my Orthopaedic Surgery Residency at Cleveland Clinic Foundation with international fellowships in Canada, Australia and Austria. I also founded Bonutti Research, a medical device incubator with a 30+ year history of innovation, over 500 patents and applications, and 700 licenses. Bonutti Research has developed products and technology used around the world. The UVCeed device I created for work, home and travel is a result of understanding the need for sanitization — after 30,000 surgeries and six children I know a few things about germs.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In 1999, I began developing minimally invasive total knee replacements after I watched a surgery where a patient, who I knew, had a massive exposure. Postoperatively, due to severe pain, the patient actually died from narcotic overdose at a very famous hospital. This spurred me to develop technologies that were focused on patient-centric issues, which was less pain, faster recovery, and less alteration on someone’s lifestyle to improve their recovery. At that point, I began developing minimally invasive total knee replacements. I started looking at newer approaches where we would not cut into the tendon and not cut into the muscle. We would then perform a smaller incision less invasive and avoid dislocating the tibiofemoral joint and patellofemoral joint while the procedure was performed. I then partnered with Stryker to develop instrumentation and then began implanting these. This was all just done locally with no promotion and/or marketing in a small-town America 100-bed hospital in a town of 12,000 people: Effingham, IL. Shortly thereafter, my technique and approach was picked up nationally and ultimately the New York Times called.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A total knee replacement rep arrived on surgery day clearly inebriated. During surgery I realized I was missing one specific implant to complete the procedure. Unfortunately, there was no hospital within 200 miles with what I needed. Had to close the patient up, explain to the family and flew the implant to me directly. I brought the patient back to OR and popped in the polyethylene component and finished…. and the patient did well after surgery. Thank God!
Lesson learned is to ensure all details of the procedure are in place, as well as having competent trustworthy reps and backup components at all times. It also taught me about the importance of managing all of the details, as being in small-town America, parts may be specific and a long distance away. We instituted the concept of complete knowledge and having our internal staff manage and make sure all the equipment was appropriate, handled, and that everything was available prior to initiating the surgical procedure, so this would not happen again. Luckily, the patient did well, but again, shocking they would have to travel and bring a part in by airplane all the way from Washington, Indiana. Prior to surgery, everything appeared to be in place. This is something that you would never see, for example, in a big city or larger hospital, but this is one of the challenges of operating and taking care of patients in a small rural area.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
It means to constantly challenge yourself, constantly learn and grow. Once you finish school and your general education, including Residency and/or Fellowship, it is important to continue to educate, update yourself, improve on yourself, and stay abreast of all the contemporary knowledge and techniques. Once they finish school, many surgeons and people stop reading and stop advancing their career. It is important to consistently try to grow and challenge yourself to work on new technologies and new techniques. Burnout is often related to feeling like one has met their ceiling and they will not improve, challenge or grow anymore. When one goes to college, medical school, residency, or fellowship, one is constantly learning new technologies and learning new techniques. As soon as one feels they have plateaued and there is nothing new or original in their career, they become burned out. Some is from effort, some from too much work, and some from lack of new challenges, which is something that occurs for the first thirty years of one’s lifetime with college, medical school, residency, fellowship, etc. This striving for something new, innovative and challenging is a critical area to avoid burning out.
In addition to avoiding burning out, innervation is critical whether one is innervating new technology, innervating practice management, innervating inpatient care; but, the idea of constantly improving and working on new ways to improve the quality of medical care is important. I chose the path of innervation in Research and Development. I felt investing in myself, meaning rather than worrying about investing in the stock market, I took the entire proceeds from my practice and reinvested it into Bonutti Research. I grew this from a small office within my office into a 40,000 square foot facility with 100 employees, full research and development, manufacturing equipment with FDA regulatory patents, electrical/mechanical engineers, and full production to be able to innovate and create technologies bringing these to market. This links to my practice and certainly not only helped to avoid burnout, but creates excitement daily as we look at how to improve the quality of care.
My motto has always been never look at the positive events in your career, but always look at where the problems have occurred and try not to repeat them or to develop techniques, technologies, or approaches that will improve where you had either difficulty, challenges, or problems in prior cases, prior surgeries, and prior patient care. I always look, not at my successes but my failures, and try to learn from my failures. Some of this is in the surgical technique and technology, but also in having the ability to innovate and do product development.
One last tip: Invest in yourself. Whether it is a hobby, whether it is a business, or whether it is an area you have an interest or expertise in which you would like to grow and learn in, invest in those areas rather than investing in areas such as the stock market or other technologies you do not have an active interest or an active role in.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I guess possibly the most influential was a surgeon named Art Steffee, MD. Art Steffee, MD was a hand surgeon based in a private hospital in Cleveland. His partner performed numerous spine surgeries and the patients would improve their leg pain, but they would develop severe back pain after the surgery. Dr. Steffee identified that patients had so much bone and muscle being removed that these patients would have back pain and severe back problems after this, which were almost incurable. He then developed a technique to fuse the spine called interpedicular fixation, which allows you to fuse one vertebrae against the other either during or after any treatment for spinal instability or for spinal decompression. Art would build screws and plates in the hospital machine shop, sterilize them, and place them directly into patients — rather questionable activity. As I was a resident, I watched him at least through the thought process. I realized what he was doing was questionable. However, with his techniques, he was able to go from a hand surgeon to become a world-famous spine surgeon and revolutionize spine surgery by building plates, screws, and rods to stabilize the spine called interpedicular fixation. As I watched him through the research and development phase and how he looked at creativity in building a product around general concepts, he spurred me on to always look at surgery in a critical fashion and assess what it is doing for the patient; understanding the risks, benefits, and complications; and how you can prevent complications and if a complication occurs, how to treat it. He taught me that you can repair or reconstruct the spine and that this could be done for a number of other medical spaces. He ultimately sold his spine and became DePuy AcroMed Spine. I ended up purchasing his research facility and moving it to Effingham, IL. I developed my focus, which was more geared towards new product development as opposed to basic research. Art gave me the inspiration to think about technology critically and how one can develop technologies to cure or repair existing complications from surgery and improve the overall quality of patient care. He taught me to be innovative and how to design/develop patents and bring a product to market, which I have followed through and now have over 422 patents in a number of technologies.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
Our flagship product, UVCeed, is the world’s smartest mobile UV-C light sanitizer and is putting the power of protection in the hands of travelers. It attaches to the back of any smartphone and is up to 99.9 percent effective at killing germs, bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19 in seconds–basically making the smart phone faster with built in AI. It uses best-in-class UV-C technology, which is a well-known, safe method of killing pathogens without the use of harmful chemicals, and has been shown to effectively kill Coronavirus. Paired with an easy-to-use app, UVCeed uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to safely guide users through the sanitizing process. With the UVCeed device and app, users can actually see what is being disinfected in real time and receive confirmation when the object or surface is 99.9 percent safe. No other device, UVC or otherwise, nor chemical disinfectant, has any features like this on the market.
UVCEED was developed from my knowledge of UVC as a surgeon and its use to disinfect surgical instruments and air systems. We strove to create a small, mobile, readily available device that included safety features and efficacy needed for people on the move.
The device addresses the issue of treating all pathogens (germs) including bacteria, viruses, mold, fungi, parasites… as it goes to the core of all living organisms, altering the DNA, RNA in all that allows germs to multiply and infect hosts (people, animals) and is not harmful to food or utensils.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
Traveling increases our exposure to germs, bacteria and viruses. It is well documented that there is no shortage of germs on airplanes (seatbelts, tray tables, etc.) and in hotel rooms (bathroom counters, remote control, etc.). Have you ever taken a personal or business trip and ended up sick and unable to enjoy your time off or to concentrate on work? I remember as a resident we had one week of vacation a year. This was a big deal as we worked seven days and 100 hrs per week. I recall flying, landing and immediately getting a severe cold. Then three days later, I developed severe gastrointestinal symptoms for two days. My entire trip was ruined and I came back more exhausted than when I left. Both the time and money lost were significant — thousands of dollars and my only week of vacation that year.
Travel is becoming far worse with greater congestion , more crowds , international travelers who can bring unique pathogens Regardless of vaccination status or mask use, UVCeed offers travelers an extra layer of protection by allowing them to disinfect potential germy areas via their smartphones. Any technology that can decrease the risk is valuable — as we know from COVID, many diseases have long-term effects!
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
For most of us, our smartphones are with us wherever we go. The fact that UVCeed attaches to the back of any smartphone means you have the ability to sanitize at all times. No need to worry about running out of sanitizing wipes or packing a UV wand. UVCeed is ready to disinfect 24/7 anytime, anyplace anywhere.
Additionally, People believe wipes and sanitizers are defective but they take a minimum of 15 seconds for any effect and three minutes to achieve 99.9 percent claims made in the label! There is nothing worse than a false sense of security and these chemicals have significant side effects, not to mention they can’t be used anywhere near food or utensils. Wipes often just smear pathogens from one area to another and one cannot tell what has been treated and what hasn’t .
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?
- Space — Limit crowds and lines; create more sense of privacy and personal space.
- Preventative Treatments — Ultraviolet-C will be a big issue, not just air treatments with UVC, but HEPA filters and also UVC lights, robotics, drones, etc. to disinfect surfaces and spaces in a proactive fashion. In addition, food will be another area where people will be expecting enhanced procedures, especially with fresh vegetables and/or other foods that are served and may be exposed. People will expect these types of treatments and preventions.
- Limit Chemical Disinfection/Sanitization — 70 percent alcohol-made chemical treatments like Clorox are very risky. They have significant side effects and these will be identified over time. In addition, we noted they require a substantial amount of time to disinfect and can take up to three minutes before 70 percent alcohol is effective, for example. Looking at other quicker and simpler systems and also proof of disinfection or sanitization is something also acquired possibly through AI algorithms. Concepts related to visual and olfactory sensation show that “clean” will be critical for these hospitality companies, not just in spaces, but in food locations, checking in/out, and in private spaces.
- Promote Clean/Disinfection Systems — Systems could identify patients at risk, limit exposure, and encourage them to have more immediate treatment. This may require new technologies that allow you to sense patients at risk with coughing, temperature, fevers, and change in behaviors. This would identify and encourage patients for timely treatment.
- Assessing Treatment Plans — More than just China, which does isolation, but actually allow patients to travel. If they are at risk, set up help with treatment approaches and algorithms to set up patients at risk and then where they should follow up for specific treatments and/or what treatments could be available to help them. It could help the patients to eliminate exposure to others.
You are a “travel insider.” How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
Work is always stressful; many patients and crowds. The perfect vacation would be to allow the ability to develop some sense of privacy isolation, yet have access to family and/or friends. For example, we purchased a home at an isolated island in the Bahamas where we have beautiful beaches and opportunities with space for friends to travel with us and visit. This also allows for exercise for local travel, but yet have some of the amenities such as nicer food and wines that are specific to the particular local area. Goals would be to have space and privacy so that one can enjoy their own time and family time as well as the ability to be active, exercise, travel, hike, fish, swim, and enjoy time experiencing the local people and cuisine.
Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.
The key issue is I always travel with workout and exercise equipment, even if I am just traveling for one day. If there is a chance that one can exercise even for a few minutes, it is critical to have that and to focus as part of your travel experience. Also, we are developing designs for exercise equipment and fitness equipment that is small and portable and can be utilized in any type of space whether a small airplane type environment or hotel. Limited space would still allow one to develop both strengthening and aerobic conditioning. We can share several of our technologies, but it is important to be able to consistently look at staying fit and considering aerobic and strengthening exercises. As we get older, this becomes critical to maintain function and activity. Travel is sedentary, shifting, moving from one space to another with limited activity. The goal is to change this concept so patients are focusing on activity and motion as a key element to travel and do this potentially even in confined spaces.
Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In my career, I’ve performed more than 30,000 surgical procedures on patients. I also founded Bonutti Research, a medical device incubator with a 30+ year history of innovation, over 500 patents and applications, and 700 licenses. At Bonutti Research, we have developed products and technology used around the world. UVCeed is our latest offering and was created in the wake of the arrival of COVID-19 to prevent exposure to the virus, but also protects against other potential viruses such as the flu and the common cold.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would recommend people learn to teach themselves Continuing Education and develop curiosity. Most important is to be willing to challenge the status quo or dogma. People too often study and they learn something, but they never change or are very resistant to any type of change as if people who have been historically educated have stopped learning and continuing the current status quo. Status quo does not exist unless one is learning, growing, and challenging current dogma to try to improve. The world will never change and we must continue to be proactive and realize things that have been doing historically are not necessarily the best, especially as technology changes and people change. We must challenge existing dogma whether it is travel, whether it is day-to-day work, or whether it is healthcare. One needs to realize we must strive to improve the conditions around us and how we can help other people in the process. I believe this starts with challenging the dogma. I always question why can we not make things better and then try to develop concepts around that to look for improvements.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!