I had the opportunity to speak to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) in November. This was a meeting of their Quality Institute, a four-year-old effort of this specialty society to make progress on two fronts:

  1. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, which define what things work
  2. Appropriate use criteria, which define when things work.

If this effort is successful, patient outcomes will improve and care will be more efficient. The surgeons who were at this meeting are leading the way in improving orthopedic care.

I was invited to this meeting, as I have been every year since this group was launched, to share the purchaser’s perspective on orthopedic care. As always, I was glad to participate. It’s an encouraging sign that physicians recognize that employers – who pay the lion’s share of health care costs – are their customers.

I emphasized the need for orthopedics to take bolder, faster steps to improve care and control costs. I shared plans for our QualityPath™ initiative, including the draft criteria developed for hip and knee replacements. We received helpful feedback as well as expected and welcomed questions.

What struck me the most were the one-to-one conversations with some leaders of the AAOS effort. They told stories of the pushback they are getting from some of their colleagues, who recognize that successfully reducing waste means reducing their incomes.

These orthopedic leaders need us – they need the “cover” that employers can provide by demanding better value care for their employees. We are on the right track.

Cheryl DeMars

Cheryl DeMars

President & CEO at The Alliance
Cheryl DeMars joined The Alliance in 1992, assuming several roles before becoming CEO in December 2006. Cheryl works with the Board of Directors and senior leadership team to establish the strategic direction of the cooperative.

Cheryl participates in a number of national and regional initiatives that align with The Alliance’s mission of controlling costs, improving quality and engaging individuals in their health. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the board of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality.

Prior to joining The Alliance, Cheryl was a program manager at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Cheryl DeMars