The next evolution of orthopedics: 2 leaders on upgrades to thrive beyond 2020

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Despite the loss of surgical volume and revenue during elective surgery bans earlier this year, many orthopedic practices and service lines are making investments for future growth.

Anthony Romeo, MD, executive vice president of the Musculoskeletal Institute for DuPage Medical Group in Illinois and Amy Chauffe, assistant vice president of the orthopedic service line at Ochsner Health System in Louisiana, discussed current trends and concepts in orthopedics during a panel at the Becker's Healthcare Orthopedics + ASC Virtual Forum on Aug. 26

Below is an excerpt from that discussion. Click here to view the full panel on-demand as well as access other panels and interviews from the event.

Note: responses are lightly edited for clarity.

Q: What upgrades are you making now to thrive in the next few years?

Amy Chauffe: We're going to continue to make sure that we create a better experience for our patients and our orthopedic surgeons with the virtual care platform. I think that there needs to be some more advanced tools to have folks feel comfortable about the type of care that they're getting virtually. I think that we'll see more investment of robotics, but I feel like that's almost becoming something that every health system and every hospital is feeling some pressure on as well.

Also, I think that there's some innovation, like rep-less programs, and continuing to partner with vendors, but in different ways and Ochsner has done some rep-less programs for our total joint replacement surgeries, as well as our spine surgeries. And of course, creating orthopedic focused factories, investing in ambulatory surgery centers. We've really felt the pressure of the change in reimbursement. There's been financial pressure due to COVID and having 80 percent of our service line be elective. I think you'll start to see these changes be accelerated.

Dr. Tony Romeo: It's very clear that orthopedics probably leads all subspecialties in terms of the impact of consumerism. That is reflected in the fact that as we saw with the pandemic 85 to 90 percent of the work we do is considered elective. That means a patient can sit down on their computer and look around and see exactly who they want to have to take care of their problem. It's not an emergency, it's not a life-threatening situation. So, No. 1, we have to do a better job of patient experience, and we have to do a better job of incorporating the digital world to healthcare that we've seen in many other industries. For me, it would be wonderful to walk into my doctor's office and have my phone tell me, would you like to check in now? And I push a button and I'm checked in and I'm all lined up.

Secondly, as Amy mentioned, we've got to push the cases to the sites where the care is the safest and the least expensive. And obviously the most likely places in an ambulatory surgery center for much of orthopedic care. And this is a bit frightening for hospitals and healthcare systems that didn't want to go that direction, but I think they realize this is a freight train going down the tracks. And so they've got to manage that part of their care, and they realize that there is a way to do this that will actually again, improve patient experience and improve the overall health care experience that they'll be for them.

The last thing that we're going to have to do is, we have to get involved in risk-based care. Years ago it was called managed care and it was done in a way that was a little tricky and a little odd, but we didn't have the data that we do now. We didn't have the ability to manage risk like we do now. I really think that the systems that will incorporate that concept and start looking at these higher levels of relationships between the payer, the physician and the healthcare system will come out ahead and providing the true change into value based care, where you're really getting the best care possible for the lowest price possible in that marketplace, which is a very valiant goal that we've all been thinking about. I actually think we're very close to seeing some systems being able to work closely towards that now.

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