Phoenix.  Just the utterance of the city’s name conjures visions of heat vapor coming off the road so thick you’d think you were under water.  Well, thankfully that wasn’t the case last week as Phoenix played host to the Orthopaedic Trauma Association’s 29th Annual Meeting. It turns out that the weather this time of year in Phoenix is downright comfortable, dare I say a bit chilly at night.  With the summer-scorched earth at our feet, the air cooled down just enough to allow new life to spring from the ashes – a venerable phoenix.

This phoenix did not have the wingspan of a 747, nor did it flaunt a majestic color spectrum of feathers as it sailed from what was once dead.  No – indeed this bird was a mindset never so apparent in clinical forums as this year’s annual meeting.  Stick with me here – I know it’s easier to get excited about a Dr. Seuss-like winged creature flying up out of last night’s campfire, but the movement toward focusing on value in healthcare is just as spectacular.  At the very least, we can all sleep a little better knowing that the importance of value is growing at a welcomed, alarming rate.

As the center hall would fill, physician panels would present cases and studies.  Socratic method would ensue as their colleagues would fire off questions after each presentation spurring debate.  And, without fail, for the first time since we have been attending this conference, doctors would raise the question as to whether cost was considered in a particular case or study being presented.  As the ill-fated decision to keep costs from doctors’ attention is turning to ash, we are witnessing surgeons rise with wings spread, stronger and empowered like never before.

It’s a new day in healthcare and the sound of rules breaking is starting to wake some people up.