A Conversation with Dr. Brian Parsley, President of AAHKS

Dr. Brian S. Parsley is President of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS). He was kind enough to answer a few questions for OrthoBuzz.

JBJS: What have been your key goals for AAHKS during your presidency?

Dr. Parsley: AAHKS is a growing organization that has established itself as the premier organization for hip and knee arthroplasty education, advocacy, and support in the United States. Our membership has experienced continued record growth, as has our Annual Meeting. This year will focus on continuing our growth nationally, but we will also focus more on developing international membership and partnerships through educational opportunities. We are blessed with outstanding experts in arthroplasty techniques and innovation, in patient advocacy and legislative and regulatory affairs, and with expertise on how to navigate through this ever-changing healthcare arena to ensure that the patients we serve are well cared for. This requires a constant review and upgrade of our internal organizational systems to manage these priorities effectively and efficiently.

JBJS: How do you think JBJS can best address the needs of the members of AAHKS and other subspecialty organizations?

Dr. Parsley: JBJS continues to be one of the premier resources for quality educational content and serves as a foundation for identifying “Best Practices” recommendations. The expansion of JBJS into alternative methods to communicate with the orthopaedic community through forums such as this and educational webinars indicates an interest in remaining a respected resource.

JBJS: As a specialist in diagnosing and treating arthritis, are there new or emerging approaches to treatment that you see as particularly promising?

Dr. Parsley: The success of total joint arthroplasty today is outstanding, and the quality-of-life improvement this procedure provides is life changing for the vast majority of patients. We continue to focus on new techniques for joint preservation through cartilage research and exploring when early intervention to treat hip or knee abnormalities is indicated to improve function and extend joint preservation. I also see the continued emergence of bicruciate-retaining TKA to potentially provide knee replacements that have a more anatomic stabilization and function and hopefully improved outcomes. Continued refinement of the mechanical functions of the joint implants for both the hip and knee are ongoing; this includes further improvements of the polyethylene articulation, improvements in trunion design for modular hip designs, and improvements in implant geometry that will hopefully extend the life of implants even further.

JBJS: What trends in orthopaedics generally are you most intrigued by?

Dr. Parsley: The delivery of orthopaedic care is undergoing major changes as the fee-for-service model is being challenged and value propositions introduced. This is the most disruptive change in orthopaedics today. The associated changes in the physician practice from the private-sector model to a significant rise in physician employment will potentially have an impact on the patient-physician relationship and our role as patient advocate, and this is a cause for concern. Physicians need to get engaged and lead the way during this time of change.

JBJS: Looking ahead to the next 20 years or so, what do you think might be three significant advances or changes in orthopaedics?

Dr. Parsley: As I mentioned above, the changes in healthcare delivery will be the most significant, but at the same time they will provide opportunities for improvement in the value of the services we provide. Extensive work is being done in the field of orthobiologics and the potential benefits of stem cell research. This field may help us prevent or delay the devastating effects of arthritis. Lastly, the emphasis today on evidence-based medicine will help us refine the care that we provide and decrease the variability of outcomes going forward. This is in the best interest of our patients.

JBJS: What changes do you expect to come as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

Dr. Parsley: Continuing on the current path is unsustainable. The passage of the Affordable Care Act has changed the face of medicine and will pose many challenges in the years ahead. The fact is that this is the new law of the land, and the sooner we accept that fact and move forward the better. Still, there is no question the ACA can be modified and improved upon. There are tremendous opportunities for orthopaedics to refocus and take the lead on the management of musculoskeletal care for our patients, and not just as a surgical event within an episode of care. We have not only the surgical skill sets, but we also have the ability to manage the entire episode of care–and we should. There is no one who knows and understands the needs of the patient with an orthopaedic problem better than we do and what care the patient needs. I am very concerned that patients will suffer if the orthopaedic surgeon does not step up and take the lead in this changing healthcare delivery system. We need to maintain the patient–physician relationship and continue to be the patient’s advocate. The most successful early programs since passage of the ACA have all been physician-driven.

In the field of arthroplasty, the evolution of bundled payments is coming and in my opinion, bundled payments will soon be the rule rather than the exception. There is great potential to provide excellent care to patients more effectively and efficiently at a lower cost, resulting in higher value to the patient and the healthcare system. But that requires the physician to be actively engaged in the process.

JBJS: You have participated in several service-oriented activities, including the Houston Haitian Recovery Initiative. How has participating in these activities enriched your medical practice?

Dr. Parsley: I have always felt that the Good Lord gives us all gifts; it is what you do with those gifts that makes a difference. I am blessed to be an orthopaedic surgeon, and I feel that I am doing what was meant to be. Sharing these gifts with others by serving those in need through medical mission work in Guatemala, Haiti, Ecuador, or even in Houston–whether it be with surgical skills, with leadership and volunteer recruitment, or with philanthropy–is life-changing for all involved. I have made more than 45 medical mission trips in the past 18 years, the majority to Guatemala with Faith In Practice. The first of 4 trips I made to Haiti was 6 days following the devastating earthquake several years ago. I am humbled by the patients we treat and the faith that they show in a total stranger such as me. These missions reinvigorate my soul and reinforce the reasons that I went into medicine in the first place. The sanctity of the patient-physician relationship is communicated through the touch of the hand, the smile on their faces, the hugs of gratitude, and the incredible faith they share with you. Everyone should give back in some way as part of this wonderful profession.

JBJS: What is your favorite thing about your profession?

Dr. Parsley: I am truly blessed to be an orthopaedic surgeon and am surrounded by highly motivated and talented people with a can-do attitude and a focus on quality care. The camaraderie, respect, and friendships that develop in the orthopaedic family as we continue to strive to be the best we can be on behalf of the patients we serve is always a motivation and a pleasure.

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