4 ways orthopedic practices will be affected long after the pandemic


From patient care to industry landscape, the pandemic has shifted the orthopedic industry drastically.

Here's how orthopedic practices will be affected long after the pandemic, according to six orthopedic leaders. 

1. Industry structure

The financial challenges experienced by providers, payers and healthcare institutions have led to significant consolidation and an influx of private equity in the business of orthopedics, Michael Ast, MD, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, both in New York City, told Becker's Spine Review.

"These changes in business models have the potential to impact all interested entities, including physicians, healthcare systems and industry partners, on the long-term horizon," he said. 

2. Telehealth

Telehealth will likely continue to be used by orthopedics long past the pandemic. Some practices have found opportunities to maximize patient time and value by shifting to a virtual model. 

"The pandemic has brought with it the inevitable need to look at alternative options to the traditional in-office care experience. As healthcare evolves, we are constantly evaluating ways to continue delivering a high level of orthopedic care while ensuring we maximize value for the patient," Zachary Welch, administrator for Raleigh, N.C.-based Wake Orthopaedics, told Becker's Spine Review. 

The downside to telehealth is that much of orthopedic treatment requires physical therapy and in-person diagnoses. 

"Patients that are overly concerned with human interaction and touch will wait much longer to seek attention for their ailment as a result of their concern around human contact. We see this routinely in the way patients provide their own PPE and remain in a self-protective posture," orthopedic surgeon Anthony Bevilacqua, MD, from Suffolk Va.-based Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center told Becker's Spine Review. 

3. Patient education

Practices have also seen increased patient interest in understanding how and why their care is delivered. Practices are beginning to present more transparent safety plans to patients and visitors to keep all parties safe, which will likely continue past the pandemic.  

"The pandemic has given practices the opportunity to reevaluate their approach to patient education with the ultimate goal of increasing the level of engagement in their own care. We are seeing a much more informed market that responds well to high levels of transparency and engagement when developing their plan of care, " Mr. Welch said. "Patients want to know and understand the rationale for decision-making and the steps to address their needs."

4. Technology

Technology like artificial intelligence has reduced the burdens of documentation for many orthopedic practices during the pandemic, and this advancement in technology will likely continue. 

"With the purchase of Saykara by Nuance and the pending purchase of Nuance by Microsoft, AI has been a tremendous positive change — with a virtual assistant to help all of us," orthopedic surgeon Mihir Patel, MD, of Indianapolis-based OrthoIndy, told Becker's Spine Review. "Useful technology with home-based monitoring and custom rehabilitation is now available for patients as a stand-alone or to supplement outpatient physical therapy."

More articles on devices:
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