3 Barriers to the adoption of digital technologies in traditional P&O workshops

Christabelle Asoluka
November 22, 2022

As a leading provider of a digital workflow for prosthetics and orthotics (P&O), we have interacted with stakeholders and expert leaders in the industry over the past few years and found what it takes to successfully integrate a complete 3D digital workflow into a P&O practice. We understand that any new technology requires a lot of support to facilitate full integration.

The steady move toward using digital technologies to achieve similar results to traditional methods has proven more efficient and accurate in many cases. Adopting shape-capturing technologies, computer-aided design, and 3D printing has led to a new crop of customized devices.  

The digital workflow vs the traditional workflow

We believe these digital technologies should be perceived as complementary tools for practitioners to use rather than replace traditional practices. The clinical expertise and hands-on experience that practitioners possess will remain essential, whereas the tools developed through digital technologies supports faster and better device fabrication.  

In this article, we will show you how Spentys has overcome the 3 most common barriers to integrating digital workflows in P&O clinics.  

Are technological advancements and scientific evidence sufficient?

Prosthetics and orthotics are driven by evidence-based practice, and clinicians have reservations that 3D technologies are still in their early stages and require more research.  

3D printing has been around for decades; however, the advent of all-in-one software is new.  

A system that has considered the need for ease of use and simplicity would seem too good to be true. Still, evidence shows clinicians who chose the right digital tools and integrated them slowly into their practice found great success with patients whom traditional methods might not have worked for.  

Many case studies have validated scanning, modeling tools, and printed devices and showed better outcome measures when compared to traditional fabricated devices.  

Handheld scanners have made shape capturing a lot easier and faster. According to (Powers et al., 2022), the structure sensor scanner being a low-cost system, provides a valid representation of superficial limb geometry with a high inter-rater reliability of scan-based measures.  

Hospitals at the forefront of digitalization are retraining their staff with digital technologies and ensuring the integration of user-friendly scan correction and modeling tools. High-volume hospitals like Zayed Higher Organisation have significantly benefited from the Spentys approach of multiple options for modeling.  

Patient use case at ZHO


Another salient point that is also common is printing and materials. It is important to be aware of the complexities behind additive manufacturing and why it is essential to follow best practices and have expert guidance. We understand that 3D printing is still evolving, and we believe in forerunners like HP, who constantly validate their materials and printing processes. Learn how to collaborate with central fabrication centers to get the best out of your integration process without breaking the bank.  

What are the operational and economic factors involved in adoption?  

A study analyzed clinicians' perception of adopting digital technology and identified the initial high investment as a significant hurdle, especially for low-volume clinics.  

To address this, we first acknowledge that it can be overwhelming for new practices who want to overhaul their current workflow and buy printers and post-processing machines. However, this is where we encourage collaboration with reliable partners.  

Software subscriptions for modeling tools can also be a worthy investment, so choosing a solution tailored to your needs and the clinical volume of patients is best advised. A simplified workflow is a huge asset to any clinical team as it reduces the time spent learning new software and refocuses the clinician's attention on the patient, not the tech.  

Staff onboarding with Spentys

Also, as mentioned earlier in this article, central fabrication labs can offer best-practice services at affordable rates compared to in-house production. They also can offer a variety of printing materials and technology that will suit your desired needs.  

One thing our customers have benefited from us is the ability to choose their level of engagement. Some will hand over the design and printing process to us, and others prefer complete autonomy. Still, whichever model works best for them, we ensure that the business case for their use case favors their reimbursement model.

Changing the mindset around digital transformation in P&O

Technology is rapidly evolving globally, and clinics that are reluctant to adopt and train their staff risk the possibility of being outperformed by competitors and ultimately lagging in the provision of patient-specific care.

Clinicians are constantly challenged to evaluate their original service provision and prescription model. Nothing has been set in stone and hence can change and be innovative. Ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) mustn't retain their characteristic shape for all patients. As we venture into a more patient-specific delivery system, devices will need to be designed according to each user's specific presentation.  

Research and development into digital technologies will equip clinicians with the resources to work more effectively with these tools. We at Spentys have a dedicated team committed to assisting clinicians in integrating digital workflows into their practice and helping build a business case for their adoption.  

So, we encourage you, if you have read up until this point, you are indeed curious to see how digital technologies could actually work for you, reach out to us, and we can find the best integration model that works for your practice. Also, we have a handful of resources to help guide you along your journey.  



Ngan, C. C., Sivasambu, H., Kelland, K., Ramdial, S., & Andrysek, J. (2022). Understanding the adoption of digital workflows in orthotic & prosthetic practice from practitioner perspectives: a qualitative descriptive study. Prosthetics and Orthotics International, 46(3), 282–289. https://doi.org/10.1097/PXR.0000000000000107

Powers, O. A., Palmer, J. R., & Wilken, J. M. (2022). Reliability and validity of 3D limb scanning for ankle-foot orthosis fitting. Prosthetics and Orthotics International, 46(1), 84–90. https://doi.org/10.1097/PXR.0000000000000066

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