Robotics, pricing concerns, and the prevalence of more procedures being performed at ambulatory centers are some of the hot topics in the orthopedics market.

The annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the largest gathering of orthopedic surgeons and manufacturers from across the U.S. and around the world, took place in early March in New Orleans. At this year’s meeting, a number of key trends were highlighted related to cost containment, the use of robotics and other enabling technologies, more procedures being conducted at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), and growth drivers in a number of sectors.

Pricing pressures persist

The need for pricing controls affects all healthcare markets and orthopedics is no exception. Every year at AAOS, orthopedic manufacturers display new products and provide physicians with the opportunity to evaluate new technologies. This year, however, attendees’ enthusiasm for innovation was somewhat tempered given the focus on economics and cost containment.

While pricing pressures in the market have largely stabilized, hospitals continue to do whatever they can to control device costs. Approaches include vendor consolidation, capitated pricing, and the shifting of procedures to lower cost sites, such as ASCs. Companies will also be encouraged to continue developing easier- to-use products specifically for ASCs.

Movement to ASCs is slower than expected

The movement of procedures to the ASC setting, while at a slower rate than generally anticipated, is being driven by the continued focus on value-based care initiatives. Although the Trump administration repealed the mandatory bundled-payment models developed during the Obama administration, it created a new voluntary model in January 2018. Under this model, practitioner payments will be based on quality performance during a 90-day episode of care in one of 32 areas, including inpatient and outpatient care in large joint replacement procedures as well as spinal fusion.

Robotics will play a prominent role

Several companies showcased their robotic offerings at the meeting and surgeon interest was high, reflecting recent market momentum and supporting the belief that robotics will play an increasing role in orthopedics going forward (Table 1).

By Aaron Dickson | MD+DI

Image Credit: AAOS



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