According to Definitive Healthcare’s Physicians platform, which tracks over 1.7 million physicians, there are more than 30,500 orthopedic surgeons in the U.S. About half of those surgeons report a sub-specialty with the 3 most common being sports medicine, hand surgery, and joint replacement.
Currently, orthopedic complaints are the top reason patients seek medical care in the U.S. -- ranging from bone fractures to carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal injuries to joint replacements. Joint arthroscopy and arthroplasty are among the most common procedures performed at hospitals and surgery centers, just behind treatment of bursitis. More than 41,000 knee and hip arthroplasties — surgical reconstruction of the joint— were reported in 2017 alone, according to our physician procedure data. The high demand for orthopedic specialists make this an ideal target market for medical device and pharmaceutical suppliers.
Orthopedic Surgeons by Procedure Volume
# Total Procedures
Fig 1 Data taken from Definitive Healthcare’s Physician Procedure Analytics based on 2018 commercial claims for physicians specifically listed within the orthopedic surgery sub-specialty pulled January 2019.
Interestingly, most of the providers on this list have multiple hospital affiliations and are affiliated with physician groups while none of the above are affiliated with ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). Despite this fact, ASCs are expected to receive an average increase in Medicare reimbursement for coronary angioplasties, stent placements and, most notably, total knee replacement and mosaicplasty procedures starting in 2020.
Total knee arthroplasty was removed from the CMS inpatient-only list in January 2018, allowing outpatient surgery centers to receive federal reimbursements for performing those procedures. Critics voiced concern that this measure would negatively impact patient outcomes, as there would be no period of observation to enforce bed rest and other post-op recommendations.
Another point of concern for inpatient centers is that joint replacements serve as a major source of income for hospitals, and the ability to perform the procedures in an outpatient setting could lead to a smaller revenue stream for inpatient facilities — leading some hospital leaders to consider surgery center partnerships or acquisitions. The total number of knee replacements is projected to increase by 189 percent by 2030 for 1.28 million procedures, making them a strong source of revenue.
Can orthopedic surgeons keep up with demand?
Despite this drastic increase in projected demand, orthopedics ranked number 13 in the top 20 most in-demand specialties, according to a 2019 report from physician staffing firm Merritt Hawkins. Continued robust demand for orthopedic surgeons further illustrates how patient aging is driving the need for medical specialties. With aging yet active baby boomers and continuous medical advancements and improvements to procedures, the demand for orthopedic surgeons will continue to remain high.
Those who choose this specialty seem to enjoy their careers — approximately 60 percent of practicing physicians say they would choose orthopedics if they had to pick again (though only about half would choose to practice medicine). Additionally, orthopedic surgeons report that patient relationships are the most rewarding aspect of their jobs according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Even though job satisfaction for orthopedics is relatively high, just under half of orthopedic surgeons report symptoms of burnout, such as dissatisfaction and loss of motivation. Skeletal injuries, such as breaks and fractures, can be some of the most traumatic and urgent to treat, requiring orthopedists to be available at all hours. This expectation of availability, combined with a shortage of specialists, could contribute to the high rate of burnout. It could also be the case that, although orthopedists generally enjoy their line of work, they are dissatisfied with aspects of life in the medical field such as shifting reimbursement models and federal healthcare regulations.
Programs like Value-Based Purchasing and HCAHPS Patient Satisfaction ratings directly impact how surgeons and other healthcare providers are reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This incentivizes surgeons to play an active role in hospital purchasing decisions—as medical and surgical supplies can influence patient outcomes and, therefore, physician payments.
With evolving market dynamics that are changing the hospital purchasing process, it is crucial to stay abreast of the key trends impacting physician purchasing and the latest strategies for selling to orthopedic surgeons. Watch: Selling to Surgeons: Orthopedics, our on-demand webinar to learn how to:
Navigate and overcome new and traditional regulatory, procurement, and organizational obstacles in the selling process
Use data to determine what surgeons value – and what they avoid – as they assess new products, devices, and technologies
Deliver value and insight in the new buying process to build the right relationships and close deals
Interested in learning more about orthopedic surgeons and procedure analytics? Looking for key opinion leaders in the orthopedic field to identify the right champion for your medical device? Definitive Healthcare's platform can help you:
Target and reach out to the key physician influencers across multiple outpatient facilities and networks
Identify ideal selling opportunities in the market across 1.7 million allied health professionals
Understand how orthopedics and other practice areas are shifting and evolving