Stryker education effort to focus on joint diseases

KALAMAZOO, MI: The orthopedic-implant division of medical-device manufacturer Stryker and its AOR, Euro RSCG Middleberg, have begun a PR push to inform patients about joint diseases and the technologies available to treat them.

KALAMAZOO, MI: The orthopedic-implant division of medical-device manufacturer Stryker and its AOR, Euro RSCG Middleberg, have begun a PR push to inform patients about joint diseases and the technologies available to treat them.

The PR component of the integrated initiative focuses on drawing patients to an educational website, strykerceramics.com. There, visitors can find a self-test for evaluating the severity of osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms, some suggested questions to ask physicians, as well as a locator tool for finding an orthopedic surgeon.

According to Jeff Ignaszak, director of global communications for Stryker's orthopedic division, the majority of patients visit their primary-care physician when they experience joint pain. That is a problem for the industry for one simple reason: "Those doctors have not been targets for news about advancements in medical devices," explained Ignaszak.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, who received a Stryker ceramic-on-ceramic hip in 1999 as part of a clinical trial (the product won FDA approval in February 2003), has signed on as spokesman for the multiyear effort.

Aaron Kwittken, president of Middleberg, called Nicklaus' involvement "invaluable," but said it was "not sufficient to round out media interest."

Therefore, Stryker and Harris Interactive conducted a pre-launch online survey to help garner publicity. They found that 88% of adults diagnosed with OA experienced a reduction in their mobility. Half of all respondents currently taking OA medications felt their treatment was only somewhat effective.

"The Harris poll allowed us to provide a deeper news hook," said Kwittken. "It's hard to break through the clutter of celebrities out there promoting products, so backing it up with metrics helped."

Neither Stryker nor Middleberg would disclose the budget for the effort, but Kwittken said it was a top-five account of Middleberg's.

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