What's on the horizon for independent orthopedic practices?


In an increasingly consolidated landscape, independent orthopedic practices must get creative to stay afloat. 

Earl Kilbride, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Austin (Texas) Orthopedic Institute, connected with Becker's to answer, "What's on the horizon for independent orthopedic practices?"

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 has the anesthesia shortage impacted the orthopedic industry?

Please send responses to Riz Hatton at rhatton@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CST Thursday, Feb. 15.

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

Dr. Earl Kilbride: We are a four-person single specialty orthopedic practice started in November 2021. All four of the partners are fellowship-trained and came from larger groups. Three of us came from the same group. What appealed to the four of us is the autonomy and fluidity of a smaller, almost boutique, orthopedic practice. However, in a world with private equity, hospital employment and group consolidation, independent orthopedic practices definitely have to be creative.

From a purely numbers point of view, even a smaller group such as ours can optimize ancillaries [such as] physical therapy and ASCs. Although controlling overhead is relatively easier in an independent practice, it also becomes a necessity. It is easier to invest in the right staff and administration because of the personalized work environment. They definitely feel part of something and not a number.  

From the clinical side, we have to ensure patient happiness and good patient outcomes because they are our lifeline. Organically growing volumes is of utmost importance. We also have to be creative in capturing patients via community outreach and partnering with employers.  What's different from nonindependent groups is that we personally have to do it ourselves. The provider needs to show face. Creating referral symbiosis with other independent providers is also important.

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