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.

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