Orthopedics' 'million-dollar question'


Learning how to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to bolster orthopedic practice operations is going to be key to growth, spine surgeon Ronjon Paul, MD, said at Becker's 21st Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC +The Future of Spine Conference.

"I think that is the million-dollar question that we're going to ask and answer over the next five years or less," Dr. Paul said. "If you go to any [orthopedic and spine] conferences, any of the physicians in the room will tell you that we have a plethora of studies based on database statistics, and some of those are very well done. Some of them I'm not sure could be as well done, not necessarily the fault of the researchers, but [because of] the quality of the data. I'm optimistic that as we look at AI and machine learning, that we're going to do a better job with the mountains of data that we now have in healthcare, especially since we're consolidated now."

Dr. Paul said he's exploring ways to use new technologies to look at patient data and better predict their needs.

"Is there a way to harness technology to allow that provider to read minds?" he said. "That's a lofty goal. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that. I've been doing this for 20 years and your patient satisfaction, your consumerism will all be driven by that."

Dr. Paul is also looking into how technology can be used in payer negotiations.

"When you really peel back the onion on the payer [and] what their goals are, they want cheaper, better and faster," he said. "I get that. Healthcare is about mitigating risk. They want predictability, especially in spine [care]. That's some of the reason they're being drawn to the ASCs. They got a predictable measure on their cost. To the extent that a hospital system can be very predictable with the kinds of surgeons they have, if we can use technology to become very predictable and then market that package to a payer, you're going to make the payer very happy."

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