My dream is for personalised treatments to be the norm

  • Posted on 11.06.2021

My dream is for personalised treatments to be the norm


Brigitte de Vet-Veithen

Vice President, Materialise Medical


When it comes to people, one size does not fit all. It is no shock to hear that we all have different shapes and sizes. But then why do we turn to standard equipment and approaches for every patient in our hospitals today?

Let’s take a step back and imagine a world where personalised treatments are the norm. The journey would start from the unique anatomy of each patient, applying artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate their surgery with precise details on a 3D model, letting the surgeon better anticipate any challenges.

The optimal implant, along with the required instruments, is delivered right on time. Smart tools including guides, robots, and augmented reality assist the surgeon during procedure. The pre-surgical plan is shown on a screen or through glasses, allowing the doctor to make changes in real time and ensure impeccable execution.

In this world, surgeries would be faster, right the first time around, and less wasteful. In essence, this world would be a more sustainable future with better patient outcomes.

This aspirational world isn’t that far from today’s reality. Technologies such as AI are poised to transform the world of medicine. And the data to back AI in the OR is coming in: in one of our  recent studies we found that surgeons need to make 50% fewer changes to AI-based pre-operative plans compared to current ones.

With modern technology as an instrument in the “doctor’s bag”, we will have the opportunity to personalise treatment and enhance more patients’ lives while driving process efficiencies and reducing cost of treatment.

Getting It Right First Time

Personalised approaches, such as the UK National Health Service’s Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) initiative, in which, as the name implies, the focus is on ensuring patient care takes the best approach from the start to avoid duplicating medical treatments for the same complications. It is welcome news in a field where clinical reports show that 15% of revisions based on one-size-fits-all approaches for joint replacements fail, and the failure rate for further revision is three times higher.

Getting it right the first time with data and models on the individual patient’s unique anatomy significantly reduces the need for re-revisions. Personalised 3D-printed hip implants report high percentage of implant survival rate and patient satisfaction. Plus, studies have shown an average cost savings per case of $1,488 and time savings of 23 minutes in the operation room when using 3D-printed surgical guides tailored to the patient[1].


My dream is to make personalised procedures the norm as they reduce healthcare costs, are more sustainable, and save time. All for the benefit of patients and hospitals everywhere. Studies prove it: 88% of oncologic surgeons in a Mayo Clinic study find models ‘very likely’ to improve quality of care for patients[2].

Yet, that dream will only become a reality if our healthcare systems keep pace with current innovation and update reimbursement schemes to keep up with best practices. We have seen that these treatments have impact: Materialise products alone help over 50,000 patients each year. But in my opinion, this is not enough. We know that there are more people whose care would be transformed for the better with personalised treatments. Only by making it easier for innovative devices to enter the market, working collaboratively with regulators, while looking at the total value that personalised approaches bring to patients, will these technologies be able to truly benefit all.


[1] David H. Ballard, Patrick Mills, Richard Duszak, Jeffery A. Weisman, Frank J. Rybicki, Pamela K. Woodard,

Medical 3D Printing Cost-Savings in Orthopedic and Maxillofacial Surgery: Cost Analysis of Operating Room Time Saved with 3D Printed Anatomic Models and Surgical Guides, Academic Radiology, Volume 27, Issue 8, 2020, Pages 1103-1113.

[2] Matsumoto JS, Morris JM, Rose PS. 3-Dimensional Printed Anatomic Models as Planning Aids in Complex Oncology Surgery. JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(9):1121–1122. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.2469


This blog is part of the MedTech Forum 2021 blog series.

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