Why Florida's competitive environment is good for orthopedics: Q&A with Dr. Alex Vaccaro

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Florida offers several benefits for orthopedic patients and practices that has made it an increasingly competitive state for surgeons, according to Alex Vaccaro, MD, PhD, president of Philadelphia-based Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.

Rothman Orthopaedics has made several moves recently to expand its presence in the state. Rothman opened an innovation tower in Orlando with Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth in September. The two organizations recently inked a partnership with the Orlando Magic NBA team earlier this month, while five of Rothman's Florida surgeons were named Premier Doctors by Orlando Magazine in December.

Dr. Vaccaro recently spoke with Becker's about Rothman's growth in Florida, what competition looks like in the state and the advantages of opening a practice in the area. 

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: How would you describe Rothman Orthopaedics' growth in Florida?

Dr. Alex Vaccaro: If I look at all the different satellite ventures we have, Florida is growing at a faster pace than all other regions. Today we have 29 physicians active, [and] our goal will be 50 by 2025. We have providers in sports medicine, both operative and nonoperative, trauma and fracture care, hip and knee arthroplasty, hand and wrist surgery, shoulder and elbow surgery, podiatry, foot and ankle surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation and spine surgery. On the surgical spine side we have employed both orthopedic and neurosurgical spine surgeons. We have the first orthopedic oncology program in central Florida. During the 2022 calendar year we provided care to over 60,000 patients, which is great.

Central Florida is growing rapidly. We are surrounded in Miami and Tampa by excellent orthopedic care providers, which improves the care for all patients throughout Florida.

Q: Why do you think Rothman's Florida activity is growing at a faster pace?

AV: People love to visit and live in Orlando. Orlando is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. I make it a point to visit Disneyland and all the attractions as often as I can. Florida is also a business-friendly state and affordable to the elderly due to its tax structure. Residents are leaving the Northeast and the Western states because of the affordable cost of living in Florida with the added benefit of warm winters. A large Medicare population on a fixed income will benefit greatly in an environment that is affordable and which provides accessible care at an inexpensive price point.

Q: How would you describe the competition in Florida?

AV: Florida is replete with competent orthopedic providers. Many outside forces are entering the Florida business market, including private equity. This waits to be seen on the effect it will have on patient care and physician satisfaction. Florida has many well respected medical universities and large private orthopedic groups. The combination of these organizations contribute to robust competition that will hopefully improve the patient experience and lower the cost of care.

Q: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of running a practice in a competitive area?

AV: Competition is always good. The reason why competition is good because patients have a choice. As a group we focus on being patient centric and differentiating our care through evidence-based care pathways that we study, lecture on and publish. This benefits all stakeholders, including government and commercial payers and patients themselves through the minimization of wasteful care, ineffective treatment and cost. It is important to provide the patient with an experience they will not forget by making care convenient and inexpensive. We also differentiate ourselves because of our academic nature. To be a partner in our group, you have to be committed to evidence-based medical research. In addition to excellence in patient care, the physicians at Rothman Orthopaedics are dedicated teachers, researchers and developers of innovative care paradigms.

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