Dr. Scott Boden shares his thoughts on private equity in orthopedics

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Scott Boden, MD, is chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, both based in Atlanta. Here he shares his thoughts on the future of outpatient orthopedics.

Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What changes or opportunities are you expecting to see for outpatient total joints in the coming years?

Dr. Scott Boden: I think that more patients will have outpatient joint replacement surgery. Whether this is done in a hospital outpatient department or freestanding ASC, I think is less important than the fact that patients will not be staying overnight.

Q: Are there any kind of overarching trends that you're seeing right now in outpatient orthopedics?

SB: I think there is a trend to do more procedures in ASCs, in part driven by the efficiency of a focused shop, but also in part driven by the opportunity to share in technical revenues that would normally go to subsidizing other care in acute care general hospitals.

Q: How do you hope the ASC industry will change in the coming years?

SB: I hope there will be a continued focus on improving safety, quality and outcomes for patients.

Q. Is there any new technology you're looking forward to?

SB: I think big data and artificial intelligence may offer some predictive analytics to determine the optimal venue, admission status and surgical procedure for an individual patient.

Q: Do you have any tips or things to know before starting a total joint program?

SB: Visit at least three other places that are similar to the program you are trying to start.

Q: Do you think private equity will have an impact on the orthopedic specialty? Why or why not?

SB: I’m unsure what the long-term benefit of private equity will be for orthopedics. From an overall healthcare system standpoint, I have concerns that diversion of margin from orthopedic cases out of healthcare systems and into private equity or physicians will compromise the finances of healthcare systems’ ability to care for less well-reimbursed medical patients and complex surgical patients.

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