How OrthoIllinois' partnership aims to improve total joint outcomes — 5 details

Angie Stewart -   Print  |

Rockford-based OrthoIllinois partnered with Elgin, Ill.-based Judson University and a local YMCA to help patients lose weight before joint replacement surgery.

OrthoIllinois' Michael J. Chmell, MD, and clinical lead Megan Salser shared details on the newly established JOYNT program with Becker's Spine Review.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and length.

Question: What do you hope to achieve with the JOYNT program?

Megan Salser and Dr. Michael Chmell: The No. 1 hope is to help patients lose enough weight to have a total joint replacement. In addition to having joint replacement, we want patients to achieve sustainable lifestyle changes that will lead to an overall healthier "self." Patients can achieve this goal by getting to a BMI under 40, increasing strength and improving range of motion. We also want patients to develop a support system with other individuals suffering from painful knee(s) and/or hip(s) and needing to lose weight prior to surgery.

Q: What's the key to ensuring it's successful?

MS & MC: There needs to be a point person in place to help direct the program and motivate the patients. The person directing the program should have a passion for helping others and be relatable to patients. The program needs to have contracts and set participation guidelines. This holds patients accountable to attending all sessions of the program.

Q: How is the JOYNT program improving OrthoIllinois' business, in terms of the bottom line, patient satisfaction and outcomes?

MS & MC: The JOYNT program is giving patients a sense of hope and was designed specifically for our patients to help them in their weight loss journey. When patients are told about JOYNT, they feel encouraged and supported by their physician. It is much easier to have discussions with the patient on weight loss when there is a resolution point for the patient. Many participants we see have a lifetime of behaviors that have led to their weight gain. The community-based program, along with psychosocial support, is the key to helping our patients. Obese patients will tell you this is the first time in a long time they feel physicians are listening. They feel supported and are losing weight. When participants lose weight and increase strength, that will lead to more positive outcomes pre- and postoperatively.

Q: Would you advise other surgery centers/practices to implement programs similar to JOYNT?

MS & MC: Yes, we would strongly encourage other surgery centers/practices to implement programs similar to JOYNT. Encouraging patients to live a healthier lifestyle is important. This program gives the patient direction and support and allows the patient to begin "prepping" for surgery prior to even being scheduled. This is unlike other generic weight loss programs, such as those sponsored by health systems or health clubs, which only provide recommendations to the patients and then leave them on their own to carry out the program. The JOYNT program provides ongoing supervised exercise, education and counseling, along with monitoring and feedback for the patients.

Q: What are the key elements of a successful care coordination partnership like the one OrthoIllinois has with the YMCA and Judson University?

MS & MC: First, you will need to have a program leader who will keep communication open between all three organizations. Second, motivated and involved partners are needed as a source for the exercise, nutrition and psychosocial support component. The location for exercise should have a pool and space for the patients to participate in the counseling groups.

Would you like to participate in future Q&As? Email Angie Stewart:

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