Encore’s new hip system a Revelation
Encore Medical Corp., a small, but growing manufacturer of total hip, knee and shoulder systems and trauma products, hopes its newest product will usher in what it calls “a new era in hip replacement design.” Austin, Texas-based Encore rolled out the new system-called the Revelation Hip System-in March at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in New Orleans.
The Revelation system features a unique lateral flare design, says Ken Ludwig, Encore’s vice president of marketing. He says that the new hip system developed in conjunction with Dr. Joseph F. Fetto of New York University Medical Center provides surgeons and patients with a hip replacement system “that should significantly reduce thigh pain and improve preservation of cortical bone, prevent stem subsidence and provide immediate, secure stability.” The Revelation system is especially suitable for younger, more active patients because of its bone preservation factor.
Encore’s product rollout at AAOS included 5,000 to 6,000 preshow mailers to attendees, along with continuous website demonstrations at the company’s 30’x50′ booth. Encore expects to increase its AAOS booth size to 50’x50′ in 1999. To attract surgeons, Encore also gave away five free website development packages for physician practices.
Also in New Orleans, Encore used the meeting to train its 60-member sales force. That growing sales network consists of exclusive independent agents who can sell a limited number of non-competing products, but Encore total joint systems exclusively.
In addition to an aggressive trade show schedule for 1998 (all major national, regional and university-sponsored orthopedics events) in support of the Revelation and other Encore products, Encore has developed what Ludwig calls a “targeted P.R. program.” In it, certain markets are targeted in which Encore promotes a local surgeon and his or her hospital that uses Encore products. The program also rallies media coverage and features patient town meetings.
Journal advertising is not currently planned, though that could change by late 1998 or 1999. Encore uses direct mail in conjunction with its P.R. program, aiming its mailings at both orthopods and primary care physicians who are part of the typical patient referral network.
Although Encore as yet has no national contracts, Ludwig says the company has found success by focusing on local hospital contracts. Despite the recent influx of GPOs into orthopedic product areas, Ludwig remains confident. “Enough of the market is not tied up by national agreements,” he says.
At about $3,000, Ludwig says that the Revelation system is priced “consistent with other porous coated products.” Zimmer Inc., Warsaw, Ind., is still the leader in a total hip products market estimated at approximately
$1 billion in this country and about $2 billion worldwide.
Although still quite small by orthopedic industry standards, six-year-old Encore has enjoyed some significant sales gains of late. The company, which went public in March 1997 (NASDAQ: ENMC), reported 1997 sales of
$24.4 million, a 39% increase over 1996 sales of $17.6 million. Encore’s sales force now covers approximately two-thirds of the U.S. Ludwig says the company has targeted what he calls “up and coming orthopods” for sales, as well as offering growth opportunities for sales reps.
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