Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics' MSO 'eager to expand, partner and collaborate' with independent practices

Alan Condon -  

Earlier this month, Bethesda, Md.-based the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics launched MedVanta, the largest physician-owned musculoskeletal management services organization in the U.S. It is focused on helping independent practices thrive in the modern healthcare environment. 

Louis Levitt, MD, chief medical officer of MedVanta and vice president of the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, spoke to Becker's about outside investors in orthopedics, the importance of independent providers and what the MSO aims to achieve in the next three years.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How did CAO's 150-plus physicians come together to launch MedVanta? How will they work together to achieve the MSO's goals?

Dr. Louis Levitt: With more than 160 independent physicians working across more than 60 locations, the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics is now an 8-year-old, mature organization and a leader in the delivery of orthopedic care. We pioneered the supergroup model in response to the rising trend of hospitals and health systems purchasing private practice groups that were left with no other option in the face of soaring operating costs and declining reimbursement rates, among other challenges that have only accelerated in the last decade.

CAO has found that the most efficient way to operate and provide the highest quality orthopedic care at the lowest cost was to consolidate business functions while remaining independent. We spent nearly a decade coming together as one company, transitioning our practices to one unified EMR system and streamlining back-office functions such as compliance, centralized billing, data analytics and human resources. Equally important, coming together has provided countless opportunities to share best practices, collaborate on research and pioneer new pathways to enhance care delivery across the entire patient journey.

We've grown significantly along the way, proving this private practice model can — and does — work. 

MedVanta is the natural evolution of CAO. It made perfect sense to create a management services organization to further streamline business functions and offer this unique model to musculoskeletal private practices across the country. Better yet, MedVanta offers additional advantages as a separate company, including protecting the clinical side of the business. MedVanta has a smaller, more nimble board than CAO, enabling us to make quicker strategic decisions and play a more active role in changing the future of medicine.

We are eager to expand, partner and collaborate with like-minded private practice groups that want to leverage the efficiency of our operational model. We're offering our proven solutions to all musculoskeletal specialties — neurosurgery, rheumatology, pain management and more — to help transform business operations and take private practice care to the next level.

Q: What kind of independent orthopedic practices can MedVanta offer the most benefit to? What region(s) will MedVanta focus on?

LL: We believe any musculoskeletal private practice group committed to remaining independent will benefit from the suite of services MedVanta has to offer. We have been in their shoes and can offer a bridge to the future of healthcare delivery: value-based payment models. We have the resources to guide private practices through the shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, enabling them to take risks and succeed. We created a billing service company specifically designed for musculoskeletal providers. We offer services and solutions that are often overlooked but are extremely important to mitigate practice risk, such as a comprehensive compliance program, financial, legal and human resources services. Furthermore, MedVanta brings efficiency to the practice. Efficiency in this scenario means we save the practice time, money and effort. To sum it up, MedVanta has the experience and knowledge to deliver to any large, medium or small musculoskeletal practice the following: increased revenues, reduced cost and expanded market share, allowing the providers to focus on patient care and outcomes and the staff to provide the best patient experience. These resources will bring great value to independent practices.

We won't focus on any one region. Our reach will expand across the country, though musculoskeletal private practices in our region in the mid-Atlantic can access MedVanta's services by joining CAO. We'd like to attract the brightest minds and the best clinical and business expertise in the nation, so we can continue to refine our best-in-class business functions specializing in musculoskeletal care.

Q: How will the rising number of outside investors affect the orthopedic landscape in the U.S.?

LL: I am seriously concerned about who will serve as the caretakers of the future of medicine when it is taken out of the hands of the physicians and given to investors. MedVanta is unique in that it is physician-owned and operated. We are not answerable to financiers or a nonphysician board. Enhancing medicine is our top priority. We are committed to private practice and have proven we can increase our value by delivering high-quality care while lowering costs — not by taking outside investment.

Private equity coming in to "buy" healthcare has a profound short-term effect, but it worries me long term, too. Their foremost goal is to earn as much money as possible and exit the business. They have no long-term commitment or loyalty to the patient or to medicine. That's why we created MedVanta — to empower private practice medicine so providers can remain independent in this landscape that is dominated by corporations and financiers.

Q: What does MedVanta hope to achieve in the next three years?

LL: We see MedVanta as a national symbol of change and the protector of healthcare in the future. Medicine is evolving. It is becoming too costly, and the younger generations — Millennials, Gen Z — don't seem to want the same doctor-patient relationship that older generations value. The digitalization of medicine is very real, and telemedicine and urgent care are becoming the first point of patient care. It is paramount that we adapt and we are excited to embrace change.

We plan to work with tech companies and other innovators so we can become a leader in this new future of medicine. We will train physicians, physician assistants and nurses differently, enabling us to more effectively leverage medical staff while delivering the highest quality of care. And we'll harness powerful data to inform evidence-based medicine to yield better outcomes. All the while, of course, we seek to preserve and elevate the standard of care found only in the private practice model.

Q: Do you see more large orthopedic groups in other parts of the country establishing MSOs as a way to grow and help maintain physician autonomy? 

LL: Yes, and larger groups are more likely to develop MSOs. Like we saw with airlines, we may ultimately see the consolidation of MSOs into larger organizations.

Those of us who are committed to independent medicine all share the same goal: to keep the physician in charge of medicine. While most MSOs are beholden to outside financial influence, MedVanta was created to specifically counter this trend. We are really excited about how MedVanta will bring positive change to the delivery of medicine, signaling a new era for private practitioners that greatly benefits the patient.

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