7 predictions for orthopedic surgery


If the past decade is any indication, the field of orthopedic surgery could look radically different in 2031 than it does today. According to these seven orthopedic surgeons, some of the most likely changes include the changing role of clinicians.

Note: The following answers have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What is one bold prediction you have about how the orthopedic field will change over the next decade?

Don Buford, MD. Texas Institute of Orthobiology (Dallas): Over the next 10 years, the use of orthobiologics in orthopedics will grow rapidly. As growing clinical research shows these procedures to be safe and cost-effective for many orthopedic conditions, doctors will increase the use of these injections instead of drugs, steroids, or even certain surgeries.

Knowledgeable patients with orthopedic problems such as arthritis, back pain or sports injuries have already begun to seek treatments such as injections of platelet-rich plasma instead of steroids, viscosupplementation (a treatment by injection fluid for arthritis) or medication.

Sergio Mendoza-Lattes, MD. Duke Spine Center (Durham, North Carolina): The field of spine surgery will be completely taken over by neurosurgery. We are training a growing number of neurosurgical residents to perform procedures that in the past were – and still are today in most parts of the world – in the hands of orthopedic surgeons. This includes surgery for adult and even pediatric deformities, trauma surgery, and surgery for degenerative disorders.

I personally believe that the ideal pathway should be a combined training program that offers a more holistic approach, including understanding hip, shoulder, peripheral nerve disease and many overlapping disease processes that are in the differentials of many patients seen daily in the spine. clinical.

Davis Hurley, MD. Colorado Orthopedic Centers (Denver): We will continue to see exponential growth in orthopedic procedures moving into the ASC setting and away from traditional hospital settings. We know that transferring cases to CHWs remains the greatest opportunity to reduce the total cost of care and achieve the quadruple goal of quality outcomes, a better experience for patients and providers, all at a total cost of inferior care. For context, orthopedic centers in Colorado have performed 67% of our cases in ASCs so far this year. Our partner, Surgical Care Affiliates, has seen significant spine and total joint growth in its ASCs, including a 29% growth in total joint count in the first four months of 2021 alone.

There are many reasons for this growth trend, and it boils down to more holistic support that helps practices like OCC stay independent in areas such as access to value-based models of care, referrals of patients, capital investment and other solutions to manage and optimize our business.

Mark Rankin, MD. Summit Orthopedics (Washington, DC): It’s quite simple: health data and informatics are leading the way. With electronic health records, AI and robotics ostensibly facilitating more precisely guided surgery, but actually learning our movements, the few remaining orthopedic surgeons 10 years from now will be relegated to profitable associate physician supervisory roles. . Even the Associate Physicians changed their names to prepare the public to get used to their expanding scope of practice.

Frank Kolisek, MD. OrthoIndy South (Greenwood, Ind.): My answer is that there will be fewer orthopedic surgeons providing orthopedic care and more auxiliary physicians providing orthopedic care. This may work because surgeons will spend more time in the operating room and less time in the clinic. Extensor physicians will take up the extra office time that surgeons currently do.

Arguably, this is a good thing, because it allows surgeons to do more surgeon work and non-surgeons to do more non-surgeon work. Additionally, if orthopedic surgeons spend 50% more time in the operating room, then in theory we would need 50% fewer surgeons to perform the same number of surgeries. slack in the office.

Bruce Gomberg, MD. Northern Light Health (Falmouth, Maine): We will stop being surgeons and start becoming information managers.

Rick White, MD. Marshall Orthopedic & Sports Medicine (Mo.): The field of orthopedics will continue to evolve, as regulations and oversight will continue to increase. It will become the norm. In addition, new innovative treatment options will become the norm. Extensor physicians and other providers will continue to gain privileges and contribute more to the treatment of musculoskeletal care.


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