Aspen Medical Products: Pioneering a New Standard in the Medical Bracing Industry

Aspen Medical Products - Medical Bracing Industry | Jim Cloar | The Lifesciences Magazine

Today, orthopedic bracing has become an important facet of modern healthcare, offering solutions that transcend the boundaries of pain management, motion control, and postural alignment. Catering to the evolving demand, numerous companies are emerging in the market. In this increasing competition, Aspen Medical Products is one of the few companies that stand out with cutting-edge orthopedic bracing products. 

Aspen was founded in 1993 with the mission to provide clinical technicians with innovative products and solutions that deliver the best patient outcomes. Starting with the Cervical Collar, today, the company has become the leader in orthopedic spinal bracing with a full range of products that help patients regain mobility, improve posture, and manage pain. Led by Jim Cloar (Chief Executive Officer and President), Aspen’s core philosophy revolves around innovating and advancing clinically-based solutions focused on serving the needs of healthcare professionals and enhancing patients’ lives. 

Bouquet of Industry-leading Products and Solutions

For 30 years, Aspen Medical Products has transformed the medical bracing industry with market-leading solutions designed for motion control, pain management, and postural alignment. The company enables patients to get back to doing the activities that they love through research-backed, technology-driven products that manage pain and provide appropriate motion restriction where needed. Aspen’s R&D Team is dedicated to advancing solutions for healthcare providers and patients. Two of its recent breakthroughs are the VRTX System and the Horizon PRO Line. 

The VRTX System is the first and only fully integrated spinal support system ready right when patients need it. It is an all-in-one modular solution comprising five braces (Collar, CTO, LSO, TLSO, and  CTLSO) in one system to provide optimal motion restriction for the spine pre- and post-operation. Adjustable sizing and the integrated components simplify product application for effective and efficient care. This can reduce the patient’s length of stay by getting them ambulatory faster, and also optimizes care, time, cost, and resources.

The Horizon PRO line, on the other hand, is backed by clinical research and 10 years of trusted technology to provide an updated approach to low back pain management. The inelastic design, combined with targeted compression, helps patients swiftly get back to their daily living activities.

With a commitment to product quality and innovation, the company has brought about numerous groundbreaking advancements within the industry. For example, Aspen’s Vista® Cervical Collar is presently the standard of care in a majority of Level I/Level II Trauma Centers throughout the United States. Moreover, the VRTX System is the first-ever cervical-to-sacrum off-the-shelf spine solution. 

Talking about Aspen’s services, Cristina, one of its patients/users said, “I cannot stress how thankful I am for your products. I have worn so many braces…I love that your braces are patient-friendly in the way that you are never stuck with discomfort. I know that there is always a setting I can find to maximize comfort. It makes all the difference!

Quality, Durability, and Sustainability

Alongside its focus on innovation, Aspen is committed to quality, durability, and sustainability. It uses premium materials made to last throughout patients’ care and recovery and utilizes rigorous testing methods like cycle testing and strength testing to ensure products will last. The result is trusted care in the hospital, avoiding complications like skin breakdown, and ensuring continued patient comfort and compliance. The company is also focusing on sustainability in its product development, pursuing new materials, packaging, and approaches to reduce waste.

Furthermore, Aspen’s commitment to clinical outcomes is evident in its sales team, which consists of industry veterans with clinical backgrounds, including physical therapists and orthotists. “We are focused on delivering a comprehensive solution for the acute care setting by delivering an ecosystem of product, clinical in-service, and partnering with clinicians that bring value in the appropriate fitting of our product to optimize the clinical and patient experience,” asserts Jim. 

A Seasoned Expert at the Helm

Leadership plays a major role in the growth of every company. At Aspen, Cloar has been successfully shouldering the responsibility of taking the company forward. He leads the Aspen Medical Products global team, focusing on advancing patient care, innovation, and delivering value-based solutions to healthcare professionals. Talking about his entry into the medical bracing industry, Cloar says, “I was inspired to enter this industry because of what we do daily–help people heal, manage their pain, and return them to their former mobility.”

Presently, Cloar is responsible for growing the business through continuous improvement to maintain profitable growth while driving innovative and disruptive products and services that are valued by the company’s current and potential customers. The company is also looking at acquisitions and partnerships that enhance its success.

Besides this, Cloar maintains Aspen’s culture of inclusion, respect, and openness to all employees in the four countries in which it has facilities. He also ensures that every employee understands the company’s strategic plan and how it relates to what they do daily to drive the success of the organization.

Factors Leading to Success

Several factors are responsible for the success of both Cloar and Aspen Medical Products. First and foremost, Cloar listens to the people. In the company’s corporate headquarters, he regularly meets with groups of employees and has quarterly all-company meetings available on Zoom to ensure he understands what is going on with departments as well as provide financial, strategic, and relevant information to make sure that all are fully aware of Aspen’s successes and challenges.  

Cloar spends close to 50% of his time on the road working with the sales team and meeting with key partners and customers to validate the company’s strategic plan and ensure that all its activities are relevant to the market needs. He has a talented leadership team that meets weekly to foster communication and alliance, and focus on what is strategically significant. 

Cloar mentions that accountability is core to Aspen’s success. The company has straightforward operating mechanisms that drive prioritization, alignment, accountability, and execution. ,. Priorities are tracked monthly to ensure the team understands progress, challenges, and adjustments needed in real-time to execute for success. Moreover, as a global organization, Cloar also regularly visits the company’s employees and partners that are in other regions of the world. “Their voice and needs are key to our continued future growth,” he adds. 

Leadership Philosophy Rooted in People

Cloar’s leadership philosophy is straightforward and revolves around a few fundamental principles. Cloar believes in the importance of assembling the right team members at all levels. A cohesive team, he knows, is crucial for achieving greatness. He also makes sure that everyone on his team understands the organization’s direction and purpose. 

Communication plays a pivotal role in Cloar’s leadership strategy. He believes in transparency and ensures that all employees are kept in the loop, be it good news or bad. This way, everyone feels connected to the organization’s ups and downs, creating a stronger bond among the team members.

At the leadership team level, Cloar has a set of expectations. He requires his leadership team to be fully committed to the organization’s direction and to align with its strategy. Collaboration and the ability to communicate across different functions are skills he values greatly. There have been instances when Cloar had to make tough decisions, removing technically competent but culturally misfit individuals from his leadership teams. He firmly believes that these key team actions, such as effective communication and teamwork, are non-negotiable.

Furthermore, Cloar’s secret to success lies in his approach to hiring. He knows that leadership is not about him but about the team. He sees his primary role as creating an environment where individuals can thrive and succeed. He seeks and rewards passionate, ambitious people who collaborate well with others, sharing the common goal of achieving success and winning together.

Notable Achievements

In his decorated career spanning 30+ years, Cloar has achieved tremendous success and has been a part of many great teams at companies like Medtronic, Biomet, Zimmer Biomet, Smith and Nephew, and Depuy. Some of his notable achievements are:

  • Managing the launch of one of the largest Medtronic products in the company’s history.
  • Building a new business unit within an organization that achieved $600M in revenue within two years. 
  • Growing revenue in an emerging division of a company from $115k to $230M in four years. Also growing bottom line profits by 85% per year by refocusing on service models to drive customer value and organizational profitability, globally. 
  • Successfully integrating multiple acquisitions to drive profitability both short and long-term.

Focus on Patient Experience

Over the years, the medical bracing industry’s focus has shifted toward a focus on price, not value. Aspen Medical Products believes that the focus should be on the patient experience driven by a focus on the overall cost of care. The company addresses these changes by prioritizing the patient experience with comfortable, low-profile products that ensure comfort for better compliance, and by providing cost-effective solutions that optimize resource utilization and efficiency. It is focused on the hospital through standardization across departments needing orthoses, ongoing training of staff to reduce frustration and optimization of appropriate fitting of patients. 

What does the Future Hold?

Aspen Medical Products uses technologies like 3D printing for rapid prototyping, prototype injection molding, and tooling to evaluate materials and designs quickly. In the near future, the company’s clients can expect a commitment to product quality and innovation in the areas of mobility, spinal care, posture, and pain management. “Our focus is—and will continue to be—on indication-specific bracing backed by data that supports the appropriate use of an orthosis to address unmet needs of the healthcare provider,” adds Cloar. 

Cloar further mentions that innovation of the future will not only be about the product, it will be about solutions that address cost, staffing, and clinical variability to ensure quality outcomes and success for customers. According to him, customized bracing, value-based care, and data-driven decision-making are the key trends that will drive the industry in the future. 

Cloar’s Advice to the Aspiring

For aspiring leaders in the healthcare industry, Cloar shares some advice:

  1. Build your network now.
  2. Whether still in school or early in your career, watch those around you.
  3. Whatever function you want to pursue (sales, operations, accounting, marketing, etc.) becomes facile in the fundamentals.
  4. In the end, it’s about empowering, supporting, developing, and listening to your people. It’s not about you.

Share Now