While demographic trends are placing a larger burden on hospital resources, capital budgets continue to tighten in the wake of reform. Administrators may seek to control costs by extending the useful lives of clinical technology and equipment, which could save millions of dollars if done prudently and deliberately. However, hospital administrators must be cautious to find the balance between conserving capital and meeting the clinical standard of care by offering key innovations. Ultimately, administrators must balance several factors—such as cost of maintenance, downtime, and tradeoffs in technological advances—when making decisions to extend the lifecycles of their imaging equipment.
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It’s no secret that the demand for orthopedic surgery is likely to grow substantially in the next decade. Our population will disproportionately move into older age brackets that have historically had the highest utilization rates of joint arthroplasty.
In addition, recent trends have shown that younger patients are also receiving joint replacements at higher rates. Growing demand for what is overwhelmingly an inpatient surgical service is undoubtedly positive news for providers facing shifting case mixes and dampening demand in other lucrative services.
This future, however, is not without challenges. Declining reimbursements alongside rising costs will make managing the financial side of orthopedic surgery a significant challenge. At AAOS this year, the orthopedic community showed keen awareness of these circumstances; at least two dozen papers and poster sessions dealt directly with cost issues. On top of that, multiple symposia wrestled with cost challenges, and cost was woven into countless other presentations.
Looking across all of these conversations, four different areas of reducing cost are apparent.
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