From growing outpatient surgery programs to new workflow technology, orthopedic surgeons are reflecting on developments they're most eager about at their practices.
Ask Orthopedic Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to orthopedic surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting orthopedic care. We invite all orthopedic surgeon and specialist responses.
Next week's question: What is your biggest concern over the next six months? Why?
Please send responses to Carly Behm at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. CDT Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Note: The following responses were edited for style.
Question: What are you most excited about at your practice?
Alok Sharan, MD. NJ Spine and Wellness (East Brunswick, N.J.): The integration of new digital technologies is the most exciting part of our practice. In the consumer world we have seen the ability for cars to drive themselves, packages and orders delivered the next day, etc. As these technologies become more commonplace we are seeing their integration with medicine. Increasingly our ability to predict what a patient needs when they walk in the door and the treatments they will require are becoming more precise. While a main portion of medicine will remain an art, the integration of digital technology into patient care will increasingly reduce variability and standardize certain workflows when possible. We are already seeing this with the use of robots in the operating room. Increasingly we are seeing this in the outpatient world/patient care as well.
Ryan Pitts MD. Orthopedic Associates (St. Louis): We have a lot to be excited about here at Orthopedic Associates in St Louis. We just broke ground on a state-of-the-art renovation for the main office, which will coincide with improvements to and consolidation of the surgery center. To that end, obviously continuing to advance our outpatient joint program in year two is a big point of excitement for us. We anticipate completing more than 500 outpatient hip and knee arthroplasty procedures this year, and as we progress, we hope to start adding some revision procedures. We’re also excited about continuing to work toward an opioid sparing experience for our ASC joint replacement patients, and hope to roll out some new techniques to that end this fall.
Perhaps the most exciting addition to both our outpatient service line in the ASC setting, and the practice as a whole, is the addition of our fellowship-trained spine surgeon Dr. Christopher O’Boynick. Another addition coming in September, fellowship-trained shoulder and elbow specialist Dr. Patrick Sweeney, is also exciting on several fronts. Dr. Sweeney will both help bolster our outpatient shoulder replacement program as well as continuing our history of providing high quality, easily accessible specialty care to our patients.
Along that same theme, we’ve added foot and ankle specialists at our main office. We have also expanded our southern Illinois location to include hand and upper extremity specialist Dr. William Feinstein and his team, who are now seeing patients in our Columbia, Ill., office in addition to the already available sports, shoulder, and adult reconstruction services there.
Andy Bush, MD. Central Carolina Orthopaedic Associates: The first is the disappointment and the disbelief that a busy, no frills, tightly run orthopedic practice providing necessary care to an underprivileged and underserved region in North Carolina cannot stay in business due to the poor reimbursement for the care that is provided, and that other avenues of revenue, other than orthopedic surgery, have to be discovered in order to keep the office open.
However, I am excited and somewhat optimistic about an opportunity that we came upon and that we are in the process of developing. Bone health and osteoporosis management are areas that traditionally were not in the realm of an orthopedic practice, but as we have searched for the alternatives to surgery, we are developing a bone health program that has begun to show promise as a new direction for us. In this process, we also stumbled upon a new technology (REMS – radiofrequency echographic multispectrometry) for determining bone density and bone quality. We are only the second physician practice to be currently using this technology in the U.S. It is exciting to be at the forefront of what appears to be an upcoming new standard of care in the subfield of bone health and osteoporosis management.
Jeffrey Hodrick, MD. Southern Joint Replacement Institute (Nashville, Tenn.): I'm excited to see my robotic total and partial knee initial follow ups. I have seen a difference in my patients' early recovery since beginning to use the robot. I am not sure whether it can be attributed to less soft tissue release, subscribing to a patient-specific alignment philosophy, or perhaps both. The x-rays are always spot on. Honestly, this wasn’t the case every single time using a manual technique. My hope is that the technique continues to evolve as we learn more from our patients and their outcomes.