Michael Ries, MD. Q&A

Read this interview with Dr. Michael Ries to learn more about him and his new release, The Joint Kitchen!

What inspired you to write The Joint Kitchen?
Most of my career has been in academic medicine which means that I travel and speak at a lot of medical conferences. The topics presented and discussed at these meetings deal with medical issues and new hip and knee replacement inventions are generally not included. Over the past five or six years it seems, I have been asked by some of the younger surgeons attending these meetings how to develop ideas for improvements in hip and knee replacement devices. When I responded to these questions I noticed that some of the non-medical people in the audience seemed very interested in the discussion, and I thought that maybe others would be interested in reading a book about it.

Who is this book written for?
The Joint Kitchen was written for anyone interested in how ideas and inventions are created. It was written by a doctor and intended for health care professionals, patients considering joint replacement, students, and teachers.

What is your ultimate goal for readers of The Joint Kitchen?
I hope that the Joint Kitchen will inspire others to create and develop their ideas, and see their ideas turn into reality.

How many patents do you have and how did you get involved in that?
I am an inventor on 45 US patents, and have a few more in the works. As an orthopaedic surgeon doing hip and knee replacement, I use a lot of surgical instruments and medical devices (hip and knee replacements). I think that most surgeons have a tendency to try to improve what they are doing, and if the improvements are novel and haven’t been done before they may be patentable.

Patents are legal documents written by lawyers, so they are difficult to read. Patents also contain diagrams or drawings of the invention. When I read a patent, I mostly look at the pictures. The pictures should give you a pretty good idea about what its about, and if your idea is different. If it’s different from what has been patented before, then it might qualify as a new patent.

What do you see as the greatest challenge to inventors today?
Creating ideas is the fun part. Developing the idea into a prototype you can hold in your hand to see if it works, is also exciting. Showing the idea to others can be scary since you never know if anyone else will like your idea.

The greatest challenge, though no doubt is turning your idea into a real thing that people can use. This means that some established company needs to want the idea enough that they will invest their money into developing, producing, and selling it or otherwise you have to figure out some way to do it on your own or with partners and friends to help.

If I have an idea for a groundbreaking medical invention, what should I do?
Just follow the steps in the book. First, protect your idea by getting a provisional patent. It’s easy and inexpensive, and protects it for a year. Then, show it to companies that make similar products. You will find out pretty quickly if they want to take it from there or you have to find a way to develop it on your own.

What are people’s biggest fears in knee and hip replacement and how can they get past those?
Some people’s biggest fears are that the surgery won’t be successful, and they will have a complication such as infection or blood clots. They are also concerned about pain and function after surgery, and most of all that they will be able to get back to all the activities they did before the arthritis prevented them from doing those things.

Did anything surprise you when attempting to write The Joint Kitchen?
I use a lot of pictures in the book, which I guess is how I think about things with images that convey my thoughts. I was surprised that this method you might say, made sense to others reading it.

How did you decide how to publish your book?
Other people in my field often asked me where the ideas for inventions came from, and so it seemed like a topic worth writing about. I didn’t really fully understand where the ideas I had came from, until I wrote about them.

What formats are your books in?
It’s in hardback (which looks great!), and paperback, and an e-book version.