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AAOS President Highlights Surgeon Challenges, Technology Advancements

Posted in Views on the News | Feb 2017 | Comments (0)

Tags: reimbursementorthobiologicsroboticsadditive manufacturing

As industry and surgeons descend on San Diego for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Annual Meeting, we asked AAOS President Gerald R. Williams Jr., M.D., to offer perspective on the prominent surgeon challenges and technology advancements in the coming years.

Dr. Williams is a shoulder specialist at the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia who also serves as the John M. Fenlin, Jr, MD, Professor of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery at The Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. His five-year outlook touched on common themes mentioned in recent years.

ORTHOPRENEUR: What is the greatest challenge that orthopaedic surgeons face today?

Williams: The greatest challenge facing orthopaedic surgeons is the regulatory burden that our practices must deal with on a daily basis. These administrative tasks and standards, mandated by the Federal government and private payors, create unnecessary barriers between doctors and patients that threaten our ability to determine and provide optimal care. These issues are exacerbated by rising health care costs and declining Medicare and other reimbursement rates.

We hope that these challenges are addressed by the new administration in Washington, DC.

ORTHOPRENEUR: Where will the greatest change come in orthopaedics in the next five years?

Williams: We’ll continue to see the creation of new tools, implants and techniques derived from advances in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, as well as the ongoing integration of computers and robotic systems into surgical practice.

These advances have the potential to significantly improve patient care through the creation of precision surgical tools: implants, from large joints to custom pins for fingers and toes; and customized, synthetic bone material and scaffolds. No skeleton is exactly the same; customizing orthopaedics will lead to more precise treatment strategies, and ultimately improved long-term mobility and patient satisfaction.

I also expect to see new research and discoveries using biologics—most notably, stem cells—to regenerate or repair damaged bone and cartilage. While there is much we still have to learn about the regenerative powers of biologics, they have tremendous potential to improve patient outcomes and function, and to delay or avoid surgery.

Finally, there will be continued discourse regarding the challenges associated with regulating rapidly developing products and integrating patient-specific risk-benefit assessments into both regulation and treatment plans.

ORTHOPRENEUR: How can device companies help surgeons respond to that challenge?

Williams: Orthopaedic surgeons and device manufacturers have a long history of successful collaboration that ensures ongoing advances in implant quality and function that ultimately improve patient outcomes, care and mobility.
We look forward to a continued, successful partnership with device manufacturers. You make our jobs easier.

ORTHOPRENEUR: How many orthopaedic surgeons are practicing in the U.S.?

Williams: More than 18,000.

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