The orthopedic trend that could define 2024


More orthopedic surgeons may feel pressured to drop Medicare beneficiaries who have non-emergent orthopedic needs in 2024. 

David Kalainov, MD, clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, connected with Becker's to answer, "What orthopedic trend will define 2024?"

Ask Orthopedic Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting orthopedic care. We invite all orthopedic surgeon and specialist responses.

Next question: How can orthopedic practices become more economically resilient?

Please send responses to Riz Hatton at by 5 p.m. CST Thursday, Jan. 11.

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. David Kalainov: If the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule continues to follow the aged Medicare budget neutrality rule, and the Medicare conversion factor for physicians continues to decline, I anticipate a trend in 2024 of more and more private practice orthopedic surgeons closing their office doors to Medicare beneficiaries who have non-emergent orthopedic needs. The consequences are predictable: shifting of non-emergent orthopedic care for Medicare beneficiaries to hospital-based orthopedic groups, increasing use of the emergency room and immediate care facilities for non-emergent orthopedic care, relatively long wait times for elective orthopedic surgery appointments and elective surgeries, and an increase in wasteful spending.

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