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November 15, 2015 | Tom Ballard

3D Ops preparing to launch its Erlanger project

3D OpsBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

I could not help but recall the intensity with which PGA Golfer Jason Day visualizes a shot before hitting it when I listened to Keith Campbell, President of 3D Operations, Inc. describe the impact of the company’s technology on both patients and their surgeons.

Our recent conversation was just the latest in a number of discussions that we have held with the Chattanooga-based start-up better known as 3D Ops. We recently posted an announcement of a partnership the company had entered with Erlanger Health System, and we were following-up to learn more about it and a second alliance with Siemens AG.

Campbell is a former coach, so he drew the initial analogy with the visualization process that runners go through in preparation for a competitive event. It’s the same sort of intensity that we saw while watching television images of Day competing so successfully this year on the PGA Tour.

It’s all about visualizing what you are about to do and going forward with as perfect an execution as possible. For 3D Ops, there’s the extra incentive of value-based healthcare.

“We’re delivering value-based impact,” Campbell says in describing the product that 3D Ops is finalizing, thanks in part to the just announced partnership with Erlanger. “We’re focused on the new value-based reimbursement model for healthcare – greater patient outcomes and satisfaction at a reduced cost.”

What is it that 3D Ops is doing? The start-up founded about 18 months ago will take the image of an organ from a patient’s MRI or CAT scan as a template and employ 3D printing technology to create an exact replica or model.

“The surgeon can show the patient and family exactly how the procedure will be conducted,” Daniel Hampton, 3D Ops’ Chief Executive Officer, explains, noting that this could be particularly helpful in very complicated procedures. In addition, the surgeon can use the model to plan surgeries and better prepare personally for the procedure. The end result should be better outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.

The six-month project with Erlanger is critical to 3D Ops’ plans to launch its initial product offering in early 2016.

”It’s going to be a powerful process,” Hampton says of the pilot project that involves all of Erlanger’s surgical departments. During the six months, surgeons will identify cases they think would be what he calls “a good fit.”

3D Ops will use the images to print and deliver the model to the surgeon and then evaluate everything from materials used to impact on the procedure itself and the patient.

Teamed with Blaise Baxter, Erlanger’s Chief of Radiology, the study will establish new standards and protocols for using MRI, CT scans, and other imaging methods to create the 3D-printed models.

As far as Siemens, 3D Ops has been designated a Frontier Program Partner which gives it access to the global giant’s PLM Software. This arrangement will allow the start-up to evaluate the integration of PLM technology into its Scan-To-PrintTM 3D printing portfolio for the healthcare industry.

Preparatory work is underway for the six-month pilot that launches this month.

Campbell is a long-time technology guy with companies like IBM. He met Hampton when the latter relocated from Memphis to Chattanooga in 2014 to participate in the “GIGTANK” accelerator. That meeting quickly resulted in Campbell “dropping everything I was doing” and joining the 3D Ops team.

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