It's time to turn a critical eye to orthopedic tech, says Dr. Philip Louie

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The orthopedic industry is filled with new technology, but gathering information on such technology is key before diving in head first. 

Philip Louie, MD, a spine surgeon at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Tacoma, Wash., connected with Becker's to answer, "How would you like the orthopedic industry to evolve in 2024?"

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Philip Louie: We need to start diving into the transparent outcomes and barriers of our enabling technologies. These technologies have allowed us to expand our surgical techniques and transition a significant portion of our work to outpatient centers, while also improving patient safety. We are inundated with the perceived benefits of the bells and whistles.

But, it would be nice to see a shift of focus and information on:

  • In the spirit of patient safety, what are the pitfalls and various complications associated with these technologies?
  • What do the learning curves look like? What have been barriers to use? We have to be rational in our adoption of enabling technology.
  • In a cost-constrained healthcare landscape, how do these technologies fall into a value-based algorithm?

The orthopedic industry is collecting vast amounts of data through these technologies now. I am certainly a believer in what pre-op planning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics, etc., can provide along the perioperative continuum. But I also recognize that the grass often appears greener on the other side (with the use of various enabling tech) when you don't currently utilize it. In a field full of predictions and ideals, we need to start critically evaluating the outcomes of the early applications of these technologies on patient care and better demonstrate the ultimate costs, safety and value.

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