Orthopedic group's plan to 'outrun the ongoing Medicare cuts and rising inflation'

Practice Management

The cloud of CMS pay cuts and payer struggles looms over orthopedic practices as the new year is in full swing.

Medicare physician pay rates have dipped in the last three consecutive years, worrying spine and orthopedic surgeons. On top of rising inflation rates, this means that treating some patients will be a loss for practices.

The pattern is prompting orthopedic leaders to strategize.

Tallahassee (Fla.) Orthopedic Clinic's CEO, Michael C. Boblitz is seeing an increase in case volume at his surgery centers. 

"The market forces continue to demand that TOC performs more cases in our ASCs," Mr. Boblitz said. "Employers and purchasers remain frustrated with rising cost of care and seeking lower cost settings, and hospitals are challenged with managing their top priority, which is emergent and complex patients. This places more pressure on our ASCs to serve as a relief valve."

TOC has made strategic investments aimed at getting ahead of payer challenges including a $15 million spine and orthopedic-only surgery center; specialized centers can yield stronger outcomes for patients. At its legacy ASC Mr. Boblitz is prioritizing its extended stay capabilities and plans to add three new operating rooms. 

Another area of interest is robots. Spine and orthopedic robots come with hefty price tags, but their ability to improve precision, efficiency and patient recovery can pay off. And more medtech companies are looking to bolster their robotic offerings in 2024.

"Over the past two years, we have invested in both the MAKO and the ROSA surgical robots to provide our physician experts with the complete range of solutions to be successful, and we will be adding a third robot, the O-Arm Spine Navigation system, before our new spine and joint replacement center opens in January 2025," he said.

TOC surgeons are near the 100th percentile in productivity, according to Mr. Boblitz. To capitalize on that with a focus on "aggressively recruiting new spine surgeons and hand surgeons."

"The ultimate aim is to outrun the ongoing Medicare cuts and rising inflation costs through continued double digit annual growth being realized through our robust strategic plan – vision 2030," he said.

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