Reimbursement, liability among top advocacy concerns for 2 orthopedic surgeons

Written by Carly Behm | March 03, 2022 |

Orthopedic surgeon advocacy efforts have focused on topics from payer relations to patient care. Two surgeons told Becker's the areas that are currently top of mind in orthopedics.

Ask Orthopedic Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting orthopedic care. We invite all orthopedic surgeon and specialist responses.

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Please send responses to Carly Behm at cbehm@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

Editor's note: Responses were edited for style and clarity.

Question: What's the most pressing areas for orthopedic surgeon advocacy?

Jason Weisstein, MD. Yavapai Regional Medical Center. (Prescott, Ariz.): There are many areas of concern; however, the ones that come to mind include health information technology, medical liability reform and reimbursement. Health information technology is exploding; however, there are many who feel it detracts from patient care. A streamlined, more integrated approach to electronic medical record documentation needs to be advocated.

Medical liability remains at the forefront of most surgeons' minds in the U.S. As such, it is common practice to engage in defensive medicine. There's not only run-up costs but strains on our already strained healthcare system. Liability reform that is fair to both the physician and patient both at a state and federal level needs ongoing support.

Lastly, protecting physician reimbursement during these times of skyrocketing costs must be at the center of the advocacy. It is well-known that administrative costs continue to increase at a very steep rate while physician reimbursement remains relatively flat. Such a relationship is not sustainable long term.

Anthony Melillo, MD. Bay Oaks Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine (Houston): The most pressing area is increasing reimbursement for all procedures. Costs are rising each year, and reimbursements are greatly decreasing. This drives independent ortho surgeons into retirement, bankruptcy or to join a large hospital as an employee. All are horrible for the patients and the community at large.

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