According to a report on Medscape.com (registration required), for Francisco Velazco, an unemployed Seattle handyman, an online auction yielded an affordable solution to getting his torn ligament repaired. Without health insurance and unable to pay the $15,000 estimated cost from a local provider, Velazco turned to MediBid, an online medical auction site that matches patients who are seeking non-emergency treatment with physicians. MediBid doesn’t check provider credentials but requests physician license numbers so prospective patients can check on the physician’s credentials themselves.
Valazco paid $25 to post his request for surgery and a few days later he had bids for outpatient treatment from surgeons in New York, California, and Virginia. One bid for $7,500 included the anesthesia and related costs and information about orthopaedist Dr. William T. Grant in Charlottesville, Virginia. Velazco eventually underwent surgery in an outpatient surgical center that Dr. Grant co-owns. This was Dr. Grant’s first MediBid case, and he said, “I was certainly invested in wanting this to be a positive experience for everybody.” According to Velazco, the experience was ideal.
About 120,000 consumers have used MediBid, with many of them uninsured or covered by high-deductible health plans. On the provider end, there are about 6,000 physicians or surgery centers on board with MediBid, and they too pay a fee to bid on requests.
Not surprisingly online auctions for medical services have critics, among them Arthur L. Caplan, head of the division of bioethics at New York’s Langone Medical Center, who said, “Cheap sounds good, but in these auctions you’re not getting any information: Was the guy at the bottom of his class in medical school?”
When patients don’t show up for their scheduled surgery, many costs are incurred that cannot be recouped, including the OR staff, the anesthesiology team, and equipment and medication that have been ordered. Reducing potential “no-shows” is imperative to maximize efficiencies. In addition to “no-shows,” reasons for cancelled surgeries to include scheduling errors, equipment problems, cancellations due to patient medical status, and emergency surgeries bumping medical procedures.
Key predictors of no-shows include prior missed appointments, history of alcoholism or other substance abuse and/or psychiatric issues. Measures can be taken to deter no-shows among patients from low-income background, such as scheduling appointments around public transportation times, educating patients on the benefits of the surgery, and eliminating the fear of uncomfortable procedures that seems to be higher in low-income patients.
The article, “Guiding Femoral Rotational Growth in an Animal Model” by Arami, et al. is an intriguing variation on the common applications of guided growth in pediatric patients. Implants that bridge the physis to inhibit growth in a given anatomic location are widely used to correct angular deformity or leg-length differences in the growing child and to decrease the need for a more invasive corrective osteotomy.
At present, correction of rotational deformity in the pediatric femur or tibia requires a derotational osteotomy and commonly six weeks of casting postoperatively. This study in rabbits demonstrates the ability of implants to alter the rotational profile in the growing femur by bridging the physis in an oblique orientation, rather than in a vertical orientation used for angular deformity correction.
The authors have elegantly demonstrated histologically the swirling or bending appearance of the physeal columns in treated femora, while controls maintained the normal linear columnar appearance of the physis. This interesting and unique animal study lays the foundation for consideration of using oblique placement of physeal-bridging implants to guide rotational growth in skeletally immature patients, without the need for osteotomy.
Earlier this year, Dr. Christopher Kaeding became the first surgeon to use Google Glass during live surgery. He used the new technology to consult remotely with a colleague who, thanks to the head-mounted computer/camera, could see the procedure live from the surgeon’s point of view. Several students at The Ohio State University College of Medicine also watched the successful ACL surgery. Google Glass could conceivably give surgeons the ability to instantly call up radiographs, MRIs, and pathology reports during surgery, while giving a unique perspective of surgical procedures to others in remote locations. A thousand people in the U.S. have been chosen to test Google Glass as a part of Google’s Explorer Program.
This past fall, JBJS released the results of its annual survey of orthopaedic surgeons, “The Third Annual Role of the Orthopaedic Surgeon Study 2013.” Surgeons surveyed identified 10 ways that orthopaedic practices are changing. Other reported trends included a growth in services offered and staff employed. For example, respondents said they’ve hired more physician assistants, coding specialists, physical therapists, hospitalists, and nurse practitioners over the past 12 months. Also, more orthopaedic practices are adding x-ray, physical therapy, and MRI to their list of services.
BoneStress is a new free app that allows orthopaedic surgeons to look at the effects of action and joint loading for different hip stem designs. One of many factors considered when determining a hip implant is the angle of the neck of the femur. This app shows an interactive model for different hip stem designs and how they affect radial load in the bone. The app is designed specifically for orthopaedic surgeons who have a desire to better understand hip biomechanics and stem length implications, but it cannot be used for operative planning for individual patients.