Since its inception in 1999, NuVasive® has grown at an extraordinary rate. Speed of Innovation®, Absolute Responsiveness®, superior clinical outcomes, and a distinct culture of “A Players” have contributed to NuVasive achieving results in all areas of business.
But how did NuVasive go from a tiny start-up venture capital backed company to the #4 company in the spine industry with over 90 products in its portfolio, in just a little over a decade?
The Beginning: Developing Our Competitive Advantage
In the beginning, Chairman and CEO, Alex Lukianov, along with the executive leadership team, knew it would be a challenge to take on the larger, more established companies in the spinal device market. But they also knew those companies could be bureaucratic and slow to respond to the market, and recognized that speed, combined with responsiveness, were the key differentiators that became the company’s unique advantage.
NuVasive stands apart from the competition because of its commitment to Speed of Innovation and the ability to produce a variety of new and innovative products each year, to be absolutely responsive to its surgeon-customers’ needs, and to build a team and culture that facilitates speed and innovation. Today, NuVasive provides the best of both worlds – the speed and responsiveness of a start up with the experience and resources of a larger organization.
A Revolutionary Approach
The NuVasive approach to Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) is a new surgical platform considered to be Maximum Access Surgery (MAS®), because it delivers the benefit of traditional surgery and the reduced trauma of MIS. By comparison, a traditional “open” spine surgery often requires an incision that is at least 4-6 inches, whereas MAS technology typically requires an incision that is just a couple of inches.
NuVasive is best known for developing the XLIF® procedure, a minimally disruptive procedure that allows spine surgeons to have direct access to the intervertebral disc space (the “joint” of the spine) from the side of the body, as opposed to the front or back. The XLIF procedure is just one of the company’s many innovative procedures which have redefined spine surgery and opened doors to treat pathologies not previously treated with minimal disruption.
NuVasive has also developed a revolutionary nerve avoidance monitoring system (NVJJB™ /M5®) designed to help ensure nerve and spinal cord safety – this unique and advanced technology may help reduce the incidence of injury to neural elements during spinal procedures by providing real-time feedback and notifying surgeons immediately of any neurological insult. Additionally, NuVasive offers a portfolio of biologics products to help in the bone healing process.
Advancing Lateral Access Surgery
The company’s numerous products and surgical procedures are complemented by state-of-the-art surgeon education programs and training. NuVasive provides basic and mastery courses, and also offers fully outfitted operating rooms in its East and West Coast offices for surgeon training. More than 1,800 surgeons have already benefited from NuVasive training courses.
To further foster research and surgeon education, NuVasive established and continues to fund the Society of Lateral Access Surgery (SOLAS®), an elite organization comprised of the most accomplished lateral access surgeons. The mission of the society is to foster research, educational initiatives, and peer-to-peer communication to help define and advance the science and art of lateral access surgery and, specifically, the XLIF® technique. SOLAS currently has approximately 400 active members, and continues to grow in number and reputation.
A Performance Culture
At the company’s headquarters in San Diego, speed is all around, literally. A cheetah sculpture welcomes guests at the building entrance and employee offices and cubicles are adorned with cheetah spots – symbols of recognition from co-workers for outstanding contributions to the company. The cheetah may be the NuVasive corporate symbol, but its employees are the lifeblood of the company.
NuVasive has a distinct performance culture where its “A Players” are the critical drivers of the company’s success. This culture creates a unique edge that not only influences how NuVasive conducts business, but also drives how employees make decisions and surpass their goals. Employees are called shareowners, because that’s exactly what they are – owners who embrace the culture of teamwork, innovation, and high expectations.
Each and every individual, from the IT help desk and the accounting team, to sales representatives in the field and the marketing department, is trained not just in product offerings, but is an expert in spine and takes a comprehensive NuVasive Spine Exam. Standards are high—a score of 90% or better is required to pass the exam. And it is standards like this that translate into a culture that achieves results.
NuVasive is not only focused on developing innovative technology, but also on providing support to people suffering from back pain. The Better Way Back® program is dedicated to building a community that provides hope and support to patients suffering from chronic back or leg pain and inspires them to live successfully. This program is committed to raising awareness of spine disorders and educating patients and clinicians about support options.
NuVasive also places a huge focus on giving back—having an “attitude of gratitude.” The NuVasive Spine Foundation was created in 2009 and is committed to providing innovative medical devices, surgical support, and necessary funds to those in need of life-saving spine surgery around the world. From generous donations and contributions, the NuVasive Spine Foundation leads medical mission trips and provides necessary aid to those who suffer from chronic back and leg pain.
Through its tremendous growth and experience over the past ten years, the fundamental focus of NuVasive hasn’t changed. Its mission, priorities, and performance culture continue to achieve extraordinary results at extraordinary speed, allowing the company to improve patients’ lives around the world.