Worried About Transitioning to Generic Implants? There is Help

Written by Blair Rhode, MD, Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon and owner, RoG Sports Medicine | September 27, 2011 | Print  |
This article was written by Blair Rhode, MD, Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon and owner, RoG Sports Medicine.

We have become accustom to a reality that allows us to add a case on the surgical schedule, say a rotator cuff repair, and typically we are only one phone call away from our problems being solved. Presto! The sales rep magically appears with a tray of instruments and implants. They sit in the OR during the case, asking how your golf game is going and telling you how great a job you are doing. They help the scrub nurse when they are lost. They show the nurse the bird beak grasped with their laser pointer. Ah, the rep to the rescue! My satirical description is not meant as a derogatory slam on sales reps, just one surgeon's description of the situation today in most OR's. I totally realize someone needs to be responsible to support my case, but I ask the question: at what cost?

Cost of sales reps

Are you willing to continue to pay 60-90 percent more than you need to for a sales rep's services? If you are a physician owner, I know the answer. If you are a surgery center without physician owners, your answer is a bit muddier. Why would a surgeon get rid of their golfing buddy and number one supporter with no direct benefit? Well, perhaps because the rules are about to change and necessity will forced ALL of us to explore other options, as we simply will not be able to afford it.

By 2015, there are some estimates that 40 percent of orthopedic surgeons will be selling out to hospitals; a bankrupt Medicare system will force a change in delivery incentives, such as team-based care (partnerships with primary care physicians, specialists, non-physicians and hospitals). Quality outcomes and efficiencies will be rewarded. Performance will matter — for everyone.

The fact is, as reimbursements decline, surgery centers and acute care facilities will have real difficulty trying to survive paying the current mark-up for stable technology implants. These products are quality, "time tested" technologies that have exhausted their patient value. As soon as surgeons understand they can have the same quality that they are accustom to, the transition to generics will accelerate. However, we need to become more knowledgeable.

Value-based purchasing

Value based buyers are knowledgeable buyers, and I would encourage you to become a value based buyer. There are better value propositions already available today, but you need to learn how to access them.

1. Take back the OR. The first step however, and the most important step to lowering implant costs, is to decide to take back the responsibility of managing your own orthopedic service. This starts with being willing to take the rep out of the operating room and becoming an "owner" verses a "renter."

2. Transition OR personnel to generics. Once this decision is made, you must have a process and structure that insures a smooth transition to generics. Now shoulder anchors and instruments do not require a significant amount of training, the transition for OR personnel is not that difficult. However, other devices and procedures require a much greater level of training and support.

3. Implement Operating Room Device Technicians. This is why the field of Operating Room Device Technicians (ORDT) has garnered growing attention. A company called OrthoDirectUSA has developed a program and certification process to assist ORs in obtaining qualified ORDT's. Think of the ORDT as an onsite specialist (your employee), who is qualified to teach and manage all orthopedic procedures that utilize stable implants.  

OrthoDirectUSA ensures this by providing your facility with an experienced on-sight mentor assuring you'll never miss a beat as your ORDT's are being trained. They have a vested interest in your successful transition to becoming a self-sufficient, rep-less environment.

The real good news: if their ORDT process does not help reduce your implant spend, their service does not cost you anything! They only make money if you save money. OrthoDirectUSA also creates value by guiding you to various alternative generic technology options. They are continually vetting manufacturing sources of quality FDA cleared technologies. Their process helps define a workable strategy (specific to your institution) that helps to move your facility towards generics. Again, since they make no money from the sales of any product, they are neutral and work to find product solutions that meet your needs.

There is help!

In short, the OrthoDirectUSA's mission is to help you take back the responsibility to manage your orthopedic service. They also can introduce you to generic alternative manufactures and give you more control, more choice and more profit.

Generic implants and the ORDT process can help your center achieve cost savings of 75 percent or greater.

Learn more about OrthoDirectUSA.

Dr. Rhode (blairbones@gmail.com) is a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon that launched RoG Sports Medicine. RoG Sports Medicine is the first generic orthopedic company that offers a complete shoulder implant and instrument line with savings of 75 to 90 percent from current pricing.

Related Articles on Orthopedic Implants:

Beating High Orthopedic Implant Costs: How to Save With Generics

Generic Orthopedic Implants' Time Has Come
42 Orthopedic & Spine Devices Receive FDA 510(k) Clearance in August

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