'I couldn't pass up this opportunity': Why Dr. Anthony Romeo joined Rothman Institute and where the NY branch is headed

Practice Management

After spending years as the section head of shoulder and elbow surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Anthony Romeo, MD, left the Windy City for the Big Apple. He will now lead Philadelphia-based Rothman Institute's expansion into New York as the chief of orthopedics, New York.

\Throughout his career, Dr. Romeo has built his reputation as a leader in orthopedics both as a clinician and scientist. He has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed journal articles and served a term as president of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons. He was also co-team physician for the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls.

In his new role, Dr. Romeo will focus on building and strengthening partnerships in New York, physician recruitment and mentorship, with an emphasis on practicing evidence-based medicine. Here, Dr. Romeo discusses why he took the new role at Rothman Institute and where he sees orthopedics headed in the future.

Question: Leaving Rush for Rothman Institute is a huge move. What is exciting about this opportunity for you? Why did you choose to make the move?

Dr. Anthony Romeo: In the 25 years that I was in Chicago, I was able to work with a very talented group of surgeons and healthcare professionals to expand on the program that had been started there and lead the development of the shoulder service. However, the opportunity for advanced leadership roles was limited.

The Rothman Institute expansion into New York provides me with a key leadership role which I'm excited to be part of. I've always enjoyed working with surgeons in a team approach to accomplish goals that seem difficult or insurmountable. The leadership role also requires mentorship to young surgeons and the ability to be part of the physician-led, physician-run organization, giving me the opportunity to work on strategic alignment, physician recruitment and program development. I couldn't pass up this opportunity.

Q: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for Rothman Institute growth in New York?

AR: There are a number of extremely talented orthopedic surgeons in New York who are on the sidelines at this time but have expressed incredible interest in the process taking place as we expand the program. It's clear to me the attractiveness of physician-led and physician-run programs, which have caught the eye of many orthopedic surgeons in New York. I'm now thinking about ways to collaborate with these surgeons and expand programs I have been part of with some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the country. A number of leaders in orthopedics have reached out to me since I took on this role and we have the incredible opportunity to do something special in New York.

Q: Rothman is already aligned with Northwell Health in New York. What other partnerships should we expect to see in the future?

AR: The Rothman Institute and Northwell Health have a letter of agreement to develop a partnership that will provide a high level of orthopedic care to employees and patients who use the Northwell health system. We are excited about that opportunity; Northwell is a $12 billion per year business with 26-plus hospitals. We are excited to bring Rothman Institute's quality of care and value-based musculoskeletal care to Northwell, including new co-projects to expand access to care.

It's a tremendous opportunity for both of us. Northwell has grown tremendously and provides healthcare services to many New York residents. One of the more impressive aspects of my discussions with Rothman Institute and their leadership has been learning about the metrics they use to truly provide value-based care. In my opinion, there is not another orthopedic or musculoskeletal organization in the world that has measured the ability to provide musculoskeletal care to the ability of Rothman institute.

The outcomes scores include clinical as well as patient satisfaction, and the level of participation is such that we are not beholden to insurance companies, hospitals or healthcare systems to provide us with the data that relates to musculoskeletal care. We know what it is like to function at the highest level and we know how much that costs. This provides us with tremendous strength in negotiating the relationship we have for the best value of care.

Q: Do you see physician ownership and independence becoming more prominent among orthopedic surgeons in the future?

AR: The large health systems often make decisions based on finances without the ability to understand how they affect surgeons. Rothman Institute, as a physician-run organization, allows surgeons to participate in the decision-making process and provide an excellent level of care. We also have to consider finances when we make decisions, but if the option in the best interest of the patient is the most expensive option, we will go with it.

Q: In terms of your mentorship and recruitment roles, do you see more orthopedic surgeons becoming independent? What will be attractive to them about this program?

AR: Young orthopedic surgeons should have mentorships and training from surgeons in all types of situations so they can decide what is best for their future. I've always explained to our residents and fellows that you have to make the best decision you can with the information you have at the time, but up to 50 percent of them will change their jobs within two to three years because they will have a different idea of what is most important. It comes down to what they are passionate about and in some cases the role of geography.

In those major decisions, the hope would be that they are involved in organizations with physician leaders. I would encourage physicians, especially young ones, to pursue opportunities for leadership, political advocacy and work toward an environment where physicians have a role in making decisions in terms of the medical side and the business side. We can't leave the business side up to non-medical professionals.

I believe the way to cure the illness that we see in healthcare delivery today is physician leadership.


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