'Private equity has the potential to be very beneficial': What we heard in March

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Spine and orthopedic experts in March shared insights with Becker's on topics from noncompetes to private equity. Here's what they had to say:

"Private equity in orthopedics has the potential to be very beneficial to improve patient care. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all partners are created equal, which also applies to partnerships with hospitals and other entities throughout healthcare. At DISC, we have had nothing but a positive relationship with Chicago Pacific Founders. DISC has always been a leader in minimally invasive spine procedures, and the strategic partnership with Chicago Pacific Founders allowed us to expand and develop a total joint replacement program and provide leading-edge technologies for our procedure-specific approach. Patient care remains in the control of physicians, and we have the shared goal to maximize the experience and outcomes for our patients to build successful programs." — James Chen, MD, of Newport Beach, Calif.-based DISC Sports & Spine Center, on private equity.

"In the grand scheme of things, Change Healthcare will pay about $22 million in ransom, equivalent to one year’s salary of the CEO of UnitedHealth. Most likely exactly no one — not the hackers and not the IT people that did not keep up with their software patches will be held accountable. It is time we asked ourselves: 'Is this a group of people we want driving our system with all of us in the back seat?' This incident should concern all of us in healthcare, as well as our patients. Now, if we can just get the people that seemingly have the discretion to make the decisions that place these unconcerned, and from the looks of it, incompetent entities in charge to pay attention — we would be getting somewhere." — Brian Gantwerker, MD, The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles, on the implications of the Change Healthcare cyberattack.

"Noncompete bans in the setting of spine surgery practice have a multitude of implications. For the employers it would mean reduced security and increased costs in hiring surgeons and ancillary staff. On the other side a noncompete ban would add power to the employees' job negotiations and freedom to relocate to a more desirable practice without having to move their homes. The market forces in such a situation will have the potential to drive smaller entities out of competition providing breeding grounds for large organizations to flourish. More and more providers will become employed by these large groups simply for the lack of other options. The seemingly added power from non compete ban will likely diminish again. Nonetheless, being an employee myself, I would support and welcome the non compete ban. A choice to work for an organization should not be based on fears of leaving it." — Timur Urakov, MD, of University of Miami (Fla.), on noncompetes.

"While there has been much well-deserved fanfare on enabling technologies in spine, I think one of the more underrated technologies/techniques in spine is endoscopic approaches to spine surgery. From the courses I have seen, endoscopic spine surgery is the pinnacle of extreme minimally invasive spine surgery. However, procedurally it takes a significant amount of training and expertise which is probably why it hasn't been adopted in every practice. I think that as the technology improves, endoscopic spine surgery including endoscopic spine fusion can really impact the future of spine surgery." — Jason Liauw, MD, of Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Laguna Hills, Calif., on underrated spine techniques.

"Orthopedics is an incredibly exciting field not only because we get to help people, but also because our field is ever-changing. The incorporation of technology into orthopedics has been the backbone of orthopedic developments in the 21st century. As we look to the future, numerous technologies have the potential to change orthopedics. Regenerative medicine, for example, consists of varying areas of study all focused on repairing and restoring the body's normal function after deterioration due to injury or time. This field is still in its infancy, but there is incredible potential to not just correct, but stop, the pathologic process. Artificial intelligence is an exciting technology which has recently received many headlines due to rapid recent advancements. AI may eventually be incorporated into numerous aspects of orthopedic surgery, including the evaluation of imaging studies, making electronic medical records more efficient and accurate, identifying which patients have the best outcomes with surgery, and what surgeries are the most reliable. The ability to rapidly process large amounts of information makes AI a powerful tool, but it, as with all technologies, will only be as good as the physician behind the machine." — Nitin Bhatia, MD, of UCI Health in Orange, Calif., on technologies that could have the potential to change orthopedics.

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