Value based care has encompassed all areas of medical practice, including orthopedics. Meeting the stringent quality standards imposed by MACRA while focusing on revenue are some critical focus areas for most orthopedic practitioners. Besides, investment in new technology and upgrades are other challenges. Using old technology such as computed radiography and analog scales invite cuts in reimbursement.

Given these challenges, orthopedic practitioners need to watch out for the latest technology trends and adapt in time to avoid penalties and improve their bottom-lines. One of the trends to watch out for is the increased migration of patients to outpatient settings. With advanced minimally invasive techniques, many procedures can be effectively performed at outpatient settings requiring minimal stay.

Smart Implants: Embedded sensors in implants that can sense a problem and elute drugs to treat the problem is soon going to be a reality. Orthopedic device manufacturers are focusing on embedded chip technologies that could provide cost effective treatment.

Artificial hips and spinal discs, cranial implants are other major trends that are set to pick up in the coming years.

3D printing and robotics: The emerging 3D technology advances are set to shape the industry in the years to come. Navigated surgeries and robotics are already gaining momentum in joint replacement surgeries and cartilage repairs. Robotic precision is also useful in creating specialized implants with varied designs, sizes and features, besides being available in many materials.

3D printing that can produce custom implants, devices such as plates and screws, knee replacements is another trend to watch out for. Customized implants already are being explored by companies including Medtronic, Biomet and Stryker.

Focus on data management: Data will rule healthcare practices in a big way. Collection of data, monitoring and analysis are top priorities for orthopedic surgeons and practitioners already involved in reporting quality metrics. With MACRA coming into force in 2017, big data management will be critical to every orthopedic practice.

An Electronic Health Record is the most ideal tool that enables capturing and analysis of data in the private healthcare sector as well as in hospitals. Under MACRA, to be eligible for the advanced alternative payment models (APMs) and to opt out of MIPS, the use of a certified electronic health record is mandatory. Orthopedic practitioners can be eligible for APM, which has less stringent reporting requirements than MIPS.

Certified technology like GE Healthcare’s Centricity Practice Solution, provides the resources and support orthopedic physicians need to benchmark performance results, and ultimately, improve the quality of patient care.

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