Top five industry drivers for orthopedics

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Keeping up with the rapid pace of change in healthcare is challenging but essential, and understanding factors like demographic shifts, technological improvements and government initiatives are critical to the success of any orthopedic practice.  In a recent Becker's Spine Review article, Merge Solutions Manager, Troy Oliphant, explored a number of important trends that will impact the orthopedic market in 2017. Below are a few to consider.

  1. Growing Volumes of Bone Disorders. Decades of wear-and-tear and the increasing prevalence of American obesity is causing increased pressure on joints, which can lead to an array of bone disorders. For example, low bone mass and osteoporosis are estimated to be major public health concerns for nearly 44 million US adults, and that trend is estimated to climb to 61 million by 2020¹.
  2. Decreasing Reimbursements. Practices are being forced to consider upgrading their orthopedic solutions, or they will be faced with ongoing reimbursement cuts. Starting this year, those still using analog equipment will face a 20 percent reduction in reimbursement, followed by a 7 percent reduction in 2018 for using computed radiography instead of
    digital radiography.²
  3. Growing Demand for Sports Medicine and Spine. As Americans lead more active lives, the number of sports injuries increases. In fact, the anticipated growth of sports and spine medicine through 2019 is 26 and 24 percent respectively.³ Orthopedic surgeons should be aware of opportunities in these two specialties as they plan for the future.
  4. Consolidation of Orthopedic Practices. Declining reimbursements, increased regulatory pressures, and rising costs are shaping this trend. Health systems continue to acquire smaller orthopedic practices, aiming to enhance patient outcomes and lower costs, but the impact of consolidation on clinicians, insurers, patients, and the overall health systems is still being determined.
  5. Value-based Care Shift. With the transition from volume-based care to value-based care, orthopedic surgeons will be faced with pressures to cut costs while maintaining quality, amidst looming reimbursement cuts and increased patient volume. Practices will need to focus on distinguishing themselves from competing hospitals by demonstrating high
    quality scores.

With the right planning, orthopedic practices can not only navigate these trends, but leverage them for continued growth and success. We at Merge would love to discuss how we can tackle these challenges together so please contact us here to start the conversation, or, if you're attending AAOS 2017, set up a meeting today.
  1. International Osteoporosis Foundation, "Facts and Statistics," accessed on Nov. 18, 2016 –
  2. The Advisory Board, "Medicare x-ray reimbursement cuts on the horizon," accessed on Nov. 18, 2016 –
  3. Healio Orthopedics Today, "Surgeon insights on the changing landscape of orthopedic care," accessed on Feb. 2, 2017 -

Originally posted on: 3/13/2017 1:19:47 PM

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