By focusing on improving outcomes – whether that’s through pre-operative management or more conservative care – at the lowest best price will help prove the value of orthopaedics in 2019 and beyond.
It is extraordinary how significantly medicine has evolved in past five years. We’ve gone from a time when private practitioners were combatively competing with hospitals, to hospitals realizing that they’ll struggle if they don’t adapt to the changing medical landscape as private practice groups have been forced to do in recent years. Now, we’re seeing that private practices and hospitals must work together to share resources to ensure the best health outcomes. And as we look at the next five years, there’s a good chance that procedures will move into outpatient settings whenever possible, putting even greater pressure on hospitals.
With healthcare costs consistently rising between five and a half and seven percent each year for the past five years, consolidation has been the standard in the industry. We’ve seen mergers like CVS/Aetna and UnitedHealth/DaVita working to control primary care, and big companies such as Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan entering the space and moving the needle towards self-insurance. What’s been and what will continue to be the driving force behind consolidation and new industry players is robust data that confirms providers are who they say they are – proving that they are the best provider with the highest quality of care at the lowest price. That’s going to be the key factor moving forward, across healthcare and with orthopaedics specifically.
In the next year, I anticipate that orthopaedic physicians will be tasked with looking at total joint care by administering physical therapy more efficiently, decreasing readmissions and better preparing patients for surgery – with the overall goal of improving outcomes. Physicians will also be expected to manage the entire episode of musculoskeletal care – from the time a patient first complains of knee pain to surgery to the end of rehabilitation – while also driving efficiencies in cost.
The biggest question for the orthopaedics market in 2019 is whether a patient’s primary care doctor or orthopaedic specialist will serve as that care manager. That task is appropriately placed in the hands of orthopaedic specialists, but the race to see who will control the course of musculoskeletal care will be affected by several trends that I expect will dominate the orthopaedics market in the coming year.
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