Bringing the joy back into medicine: What AAOS' newly appointed president has planned for the year


In March, Kevin Bozic, MD, an Austin, Texas-based orthopedic surgeon, assumed the role of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons president for the 2023-2024 term. This marks Dr. Bozic's third year with the AAOS board of directors. 

In his more than 20 years in practice, Dr. Bozic has focused on hip and knee arthroplasties and arthritis, striving to provide the best outcomes for his patients while also staying passionate about his work. 

Over the last few years, Dr. Bozic has watched the extra administrative burdens placed on surgeons lead to record-high levels of burnout, and one of his main goals as AAOS president is to change that. 

"Something I'm paying attention to is the epidemic of physician burnout, and what we can do to help bring joy back into our members' practices. I really believe that burnout is not a chronic stress response, it is a moral injury, which is a misalignment between the burden and the purpose of our work," Dr. Bozic told Becker's. "The purpose of our work is to improve the lives of patients, and the burden of our work are things not directly involved in improving lives of patients, like administrative tasks, prior authorization, electronic health records and lots and lots of regulatory hoops and hurdles that are not directly tied to improving lives of patients." 

As president of AAOS, Dr. Bozic wants to help its members thrive in value-based care environments, which he believes are the best environments for both reducing burnout and improving the patient experience. 

"I want to be a source for our members to navigate turmoil and transitions going on around them. When your goals as a clinician are aligned with those of the patients, that brings joy back into practice so your focus is no longer how many [relative value units] did I generate, or how many notes did I dictate and sign, but how did I improve the lives of the people I am fortunate enough to be responsible for taking care of. A lot of our focus is on helping our members make that transition, which then aligns their roles, incentives and goals with those of their patients." 

In his last years on the AAOS board of directors, Dr. Bozic chaired a project team focused on incorporating patient-reported outcome measurements into routine clinical practice. He encouraged AAOS surgeons to focus on measuring things that matter most to patients, not just measuring how much time they spent with patients. 

"Things like minutes spent with patients are not adding value to them. They are not relevant, or even important to them," he said. 

He wants to continue value-based care and reporting initiatives during his time as president, while also focusing on how the orthopedic industry is shifting. 

Shifts he's keeping an eye on include payment models, private equity, and a transition of procedures from inpatient hospitals to outpatient ASCs. 

"The shift from inpatient to outpatient makes orthopedic surgeons less relevant to hospitals. Historically, we relied on hospitals for medical directorship, co-management agreements and other types of support. We will have to replace those with other things, as we transition out of hospitals and into ASC settings," Dr. Bozic said. "Another big challenge with that is adapting to the new way healthcare will be organized and paid for. We are seeing more consolidation in the industry under health systems and private equity." 

In 2018, AAOS developed a five-year action plan, which is set to expire in 2023. Under Dr. Bozic's direction, the organization will have to come together to set goals that will lead them forward for the next five years. 

To develop that five-year plan, Dr. Bozic plans to incorporate both early-career and late-career physicians, bridging the gap between new and old practice goals and methods. 

"As the industry evolves, we have to evolve with it. AAOS is really listening, and finding out what our members want and need. We are being attentive and evolving as an organization to meet the needs of our members in order to achieve our mission of being the trusted leaders in musculoskeletal care and our mission of helping our members provide the highest quality of care," he said. 

He is also interested in getting younger surgeons more involved with AAOS, creating leadership opportunities and encouraging young physicians to serve on the board of directors. 

"AAOS gave me a lot of opportunities I wouldn't have been able to get elsewhere as a young surgeon. We have a lot of opportunities for fellows to be involved in various leadership positions. That's something we can offer them that other organizations can't." 

During his time as president, Dr. Bozic wants to ensure that AAOS does not shy away from change. Rather, he wants the organization to grow and develop alongside the industry, embracing new care models, new members and evolving technology. 

"We have to stay relevant to all of our members. Yes, younger members have different interests. Fortunately, the orthopedic industry is becoming more diverse and we have to evolve. But we also have to be relevant to mid-career and older members as well, and pay attention to everyone's needs." 

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