Why this orthopedic surgeon is excited about pharma companies

Alan Rechter, MD, serves as an orthopedic surgeon at Houston-based Orthopaedic Associates. 

Dr. Rechter will serve on the panels "What Interventional Pain Management Will Look Like in 10 Years" and "Enter a New World of Postoperative Pain Management" at Becker's 19th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place in Chicago from June 16-18. 

To learn more and register, click here.

Question: What issues are you spending most of your time on today?

Dr. Alan Rechter: In orthopedics, we spend most of our time in patient care activities. Whether it's office exams and treatment, surgery, postsurgical care, or time calling back our patients who have questions or test results, this encompasses the greatest amount of our time. With burdensome regulations for using an EHR, prescriptions and medical billing, we also spend a lot of time, excessive time, navigating the complexities of that.  What my team used to do as a well-oiled machine has changed to more things that I do,  and being able to deliver care to a larger group of patients that want to have you as their physician is more difficult.  

Q: What are your top challenges and how will they change over the next 12 months?

AR: I still find the challenges of getting paid for services a top challenge and I don't see much change anytime soon. I do think they are solvable problems, but that would require doctors to be more involved in making these changes and decisions instead of others.  Physicians know medicine and we know what it takes to care for a patient, but the difficulty in getting paid for services rendered makes this part unnecessarily difficult.  Picture the case when we submit to the carrier the desired procedure to care for a patient, get a preauthorization to go ahead and proceed, only to have that company decide after it's been completed that it's non-compensable. That occurs because the asterisk states that "preauthorization is not a guarantee of payment." That should never happen. We are just trying to take care of our patients and that's what we do. 

Q: How are you thinking about investments and growth in the next two years? 

AR: We always view medicine as a bright future and the best career choice we could have ever made. I believe we invest in ourselves, add new physicians as others get ready to retire, and do what my practice has done for 72 years. We are the oldest ongoing orthopedic practice in Houston.

Q: What are you most excited about right now?  

AR: I'm super excited about the prospect of all these pharma companies and their new products. All these new treatments for ailments that seemed untreatable are so exciting.  My father had terrible psoriasis and today, there is an answer for that. Pain control and the opioid epidemic have answers now. Picture a patient not taking one pain pill after a joint replacement — that happens now. Many companies are developing products to make our lives better, and it's exciting to be part of the clinical trials process.

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