The Orthopaedic Trauma Association’s annual meeting was held last week in Denver, Colorado.  Our company has sponsored this meeting for six years now.  As a sponsor, you purchase booth space in the exhibit hall and stand shoulder to shoulder with your competition.  Booths vary from sparsely dressed 10ft x 10ft spots to enormous, elaborate spaces that utilize overhead lighting trusses and massive signage bearing over-sized logos and tag lines. 

Outside of the exhibit hall, these meetings are a tremendous opportunity for vendors and surgeons to learn about trends in orthopaedics.  World-renown ortho-traumatologists deliver great presentations, case studies, and panel discussions that help us all improve orthopaedic care. This year, we even had the opportunity to watch several living legends in this specialty duke it out on approaches to calcaneal fractures and critical bone defect management.  Dr. Roy Sanders and Dr. Paul Tornetta took to the main hall’s stage in clinical fisticuffs, colored by dry and sarcastic pokes at each other’s work in a truly entertaining bout.  Drs. Bill Ricci and Tracy Watson traded arguments and points with exacting science and impenetrable supporting data.   It was good-natured, fun, and educational.

“Challenging Issues in Bicondylar Tibia Plateau Fractures”, “Controversies in Foot Fractures:  The Great Debates”, and “Firearm Trauma:  A Necessary Discussion”, are all issues facing orthopaedic traumatology.  You can’t argue with the relevance and importance of these topics.  With that said, there was a topic absent from discussion for the first time in several years that happens to be incredibly urgent:  Value.  “Value Based Healthcare in Orthopaedic Trauma”.  That’s a 2018 breakout session.  “Significant Improvement in the Value of Operative Treatment of Tibial Plateau Fractures Through Surgeon Intervention”; that’s another one if you want a deeper glimpse into how orthopaedic surgeons are doing their part to save US Healthcare.  Sadly, there was no long-awaited sequel this year.

Problem solved?  Not even worth mentioning anymore?  Not sure about your situation, but rising premiums, higher deductibles and fee-for-service medicine are still destroying the average American.  US Healthcare tends to move slowly with any change, let alone a paradigm-shift designed to reward value over volume.  It’s picking up steam, yet it’s absence from an important meeting’s agenda is a head-scratcher. There’s a lot of great work being done by surgeons and hospitals aligning to improve value.  It’s work that’s worth sharing with young and impressionable ortho-traumatologists looking to senior members of the surgeon community for guidance. 

Today, value is so important in Healthcare.  Neglecting to address this at a prominent orthopaedic conference is a disservice to surgeons, hospitals, and most importantly, patients.