I haven’t been able to look at a news outlet over the past few weeks without seeing some article or another gushing over the new Tesla 3 launch. All signs point to this more affordable model of the company’s electric car revolutionizing the automobile industry. That is all well and good, and indeed quite interesting. Financial guru Mr. Money Moustache took a unique approach with his contribution to the Tesla fanfare; this fiscally savvy blogger is excited about the launch of the Tesla 3 not because of the product itself, but for what the greater accessibility of a partially self-driving car will mean for pedestrians and cyclists from a safety perspective. And this of course got me thinking about what the car will mean for medical device markets.
Since the dawn of time (it feels that way sometimes), our orthopedics reports have been outlining the impact of rising automobile purchases on trauma surgery volumes; despite global initiatives to reduce the frequency of collisions, automobile ownership remains an important driver of injury and thus procedure volumes. With over 325,000 down-payments placed on Tesla 3s within the first week of availability, however, a turning point may finally be in our future. Although the self-driving capabilities of Tesla Motors’ cars are still incomplete and continue to require human participation, they are constantly improving; the company made major progress on this front by introducing self-parking features earlier this year. Company CEO Elon Musk estimates that the company will have fully autonomous cars within two years. With over 30,000 automobile-related fatalities occurring in the US alone in 2013, the availability of this technology is a huge opportunity to reduce death and injury. Of course, fewer collisions would have a negative impact on device sales for a number of orthopedic device markets, but I think we’re all ready to see this particular MedTech trend change.