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An Analysis of Cost Savings |

John C. Steinmann DO, Charles Edwards II MD, Thomas Eickmann MD, Angela Carlson MHA



Surgeon ownership in medical gadget distribution is a new mannequin that proposes to successfully scale back the costs related to surgical implants. This model introduces effective market forces into the purchase of implants by establishing a authorized framework whereby the surgeon (choice maker) additionally turns into the purchaser by means of ownership and management of a stocking distributorship.


Five present surgeon-owned distributorships have been retrospectively reviewed, and the pricing from these distributorships was in comparison with 2010 pricing from the perfect contract or capitated price for non- surgeon owned distributorships for like implants at the similar hospital.


The typical first yr value financial savings related to the surgeon owned distributorships was 36%, with a complete financial savings for 2010 of $2,456,521 and a mean savings per distributorship of $490,304. For these distributorships in enterprise for 2 or extra years, the typical annual worth improve from the surgeon owned entities was -1.76%, which represents a marked enchancment given the reported annual worth will increase in non-surgeon owned distributorships of 7-13% from 1995 (Healy 2006).


This research demonstrates that surgeon owned distribution corporations are capable of providing considerable healthcare savings by means of decrease implant prices and lowered annual worth escalations as compared to traditional implant distributorships. (The American Affiliation of Surgeon Distributors has established Requirements making certain the moral and authorized software of this mannequin.)

Medical Relevance

It is expected that these financial savings will end in improved access, improved hospital medical help, and an general discount in healthcare prices to society.

Healthcare costs in america continue to put an awesome burden on individuals, businesses, native and federal governments. Although some of the rise in health care prices could be attributed to technological advances and an ageing population, vital costs are additionally attributable to elementary flaws in the economics of healthcare supply in the USA. One outstanding flaw outcomes from separation between the decision maker (often a healthcare supplier) and the purchaser (often a hospital, government, or insurance company). This creates a ‘market failure’ whereby typical market forces aren’t obtainable to regulate prices. Market failure because of separation of the choice maker and purchaser is intrinsic to many sides of our current healthcare system.

A visual instance of this market failure is the orthopedic and spinal implant market. With these varieties of implants, the surgeon sometimes selects the precise product for use based mostly on his/her willpower of which implant is greatest for the patient (often on a case by case foundation). Sometimes, a patient may have such a singular condition that only one or two products will meet their need. For a big majority of affected person circumstances, nevertheless, several aggressive merchandise can be found. When a number of applicable product choices can be found, the surgeon will select based mostly on a mixture of elements together with: private expertise, choice for product options, gross sales relationships, advertising, and company loyalty. Once the surgeon selects a selected implant, it is bought by a hospital or surgery middle. The prices of the implants are then borne by the hospital or reimbursed by third-party insurers together with Medicare in sure circumstances.

Underneath the present healthcare paradigm, the purchaser (hospital) is given an order from the surgeon for a selected implant. The purchasing hospital is left with little or no leverage in creating competition or in negotiating the worth for a selected implant.

Though it isn’t applicable for a hospital or government program to specify the brand of surgical implant to be used by a surgeon for a selected affected person, one answer is to put the surgeon in a purchasing place. Restoring the roles of determination maker and purchaser to a single entity would thus re-establish regular market forces to, in principle, scale back surgical implant prices. The paradigm shift would align surgeon’s determination making algorithm with the priorities of the affected person and society – to offer the optimal implant for each patient while eliminating pointless expense.

The necessity for efficient market forces in orthopedics is underscored by the growing value burden of orthopedic procedures and the disproportionate influence of implant prices. By 2030, the demand is projected to increase by 173% for complete hip arthroplasties and by 673% for complete knee arthroplasties, representing over Four million main hip and knee replacements (Kurtz and others 2007). Implant prices account for the most important single expense in complete hip and knee alternative operations (Scott and others 2009). Measurable implant value financial savings thus has the potential to end in probably the most vital reduction in the fee for these procedures.

Surgeon possession of medical gadget distribution is a novel mannequin that places the surgeon in the position of value-driven implant purchasing, which re-establishes market forces, creates competition, and has the potential to end in substantial healthcare savings. The aim of this research is to determine if there’s proof of vital value financial savings ensuing from surgeon possession of medical gadget distribution. A secondary objective is to determine whether any value financial savings achieved with a surgeon owned distributorship model can be sustained over time. Our null hypothesis is that surgical implant prices to the hospital are the identical regardless of whether the implants are offered by a surgeon owned distributor or the traditional paradigm. Given the historical development for annual inflation of surgical implant costs, we also hypothesized that the fee of implants bought by surgeon owned distributorships (SD) would improve annually.

Supplies and Strategies

To be able to check this hypothesis, a research pattern and control have been selected from the American Affiliation of Surgeon Distributors (AASD) member database. The AASD is a nonprofit public profit firm that has established acknowledged compliance requirements for certifying distributorships with physician ownership. Surgeon owned distributors might develop into members of the Affiliation by satisfying all requirements of membership which embrace the submission of a 12-month log of consecutive surgical instances. The submitted case knowledge is de-identified for any patient specific info prior to submission. Permission was acquired from every SD for his or her knowledge for use in the evaluation. Institutional Evaluate Board approval for this research was waived because no individual patient-specific info was utilized in this research.

Standards for inclusion have been availability of a 12-month interval of knowledge ending in July 2011, and hospital willingness to offer unbiased verification of implant pricing. Based mostly on these standards a pattern population of five surgeon distributorships (SD) was chosen.

The hospital pricing for implants provided by the SD was compared to the most effective current contract pricing for implants of like high quality and function provided by non-surgeon owned distributorships (NSD) to the same hospital. Current hospital pricing for the NSD was offered by hospital purchasing departments and revealed hospital capitated rates.

For these distributorships which were operational for two or extra years, annual and cumulative knowledge was reported. Comparison of the yr to yr pricing for every SD would offer knowledge on surgical implant worth inflation beneath the SD mannequin.

A hundred percent of surgical instances from the SD inception via the research date have been included in the knowledge set analyzed.

The authors did not receive any outdoors funding or grants in help or preparation of this manuscript. One of more of the authors has an funding interest in a business entity (Inland Surgical Products, Specialty Backbone Merchandise, Mesa Surgical, Millennium Backbone, Calvary Spine, Alliance Surgical Distributors, Renovis Surgical Applied sciences).

Five distributorships fulfilled the eligibility for inclusion. The distributorships represented 18 surgeons in 4 states and are profiled in Desk 1. Twelve of the surgeons specialize generally orthopedics and complete joint arthroplasty and six of the surgeons are principally specialized in the remedy of spinal issues. The distributorships have been in steady operation for a mean of 2.Three years (range: to 4.Four years).

The research sample represents 1,366 surgical procedures (complete knee alternative: 487, complete hip alternative: 231, anterior cervical fusion: 154, posterior lumbar fusion: 247). The quantity of instances various in line with the quantity of surgeons served by the distributorship and the apply complexions represented. The quantity of instances for every distributorship within the pattern was significant for every of the procedure varieties surveyed (minimal: 20 anterior cervical fusions by SD4; maximum: 189 complete knee replacements by SD5), Table 2.

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The implants bought by each of the 5 SDs diversified, as did their pricing structure. The pricing construction of every SD, nevertheless, remained the identical for each of the hospitals and surgical procedure centers that it served. For the NSD management group, implant value was determined as a mean of the costs for similar sort implants offered by the NSD’s at the hospitals/surgery centers served by the corresponding SD, Table 2. For every distributor, throughout all implant courses; the SD worth was lower than the NSD value. For complete knee alternative, the mean implant value was $1,814 (33%) much less for the SD ($Three,640 vs. $5,453). Hip alternative implant prices have been $1,937 (30%) much less on common for the SD compared to the NSD ($4,564 vs. $6,501). For anterior cervical fusion instances, the SD implant value was $1,055 less for the SD (36%; $1,859 vs. $2,914). The lumbar fusion implant prices have been $5,567 (40%) less on common for the SD ($eight,289 vs. $13,855). Across every of the implant strains research, the SD implant value was on common $2,589 (32%) lower than the NSD value. Contemplating the 1,366 instances included within the sample inhabitants, the one-year value financial savings to hospitals/surgical procedure facilities and society was $2,456,521 (Desk 2).

There was a variation of combination value savings among the many five distributorships, Table 3. The fee financial savings offered by the SD’s ranged from 11% to 69%, with a imply combination annual financial savings of $490,304 per distributorship. Following the development for the distributorships, there was also marked variation in the price savings per surgeon. The best value financial savings occurred for a single surgeon spine implant distributorship (SD4: $558,109). The least value savings got here from a total joint arthroplasty distributorship serving seven basic orthopedists ($17,453 per surgeon over 12-months). Whereas not specifically studied, the variation may be defined at the very least partially by variations in follow emphasis (basic orthopedics vs. backbone), geographic market worth variations (four states represented), and distributorship scale. (Table Three).

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For those distributorships with higher than one yr of knowledge, annual modifications in implant pricing are reported in Desk Four. Three distributorships have been in existence for 2 or more years and thus have multi-year pricing knowledge obtainable (5 years, 4-years and 3-years respectively). The three distributorships (SD1, SD2 and SD3) have carried a combined complete of ten product strains since inception. Over this twelve yr mixed experience, just one product line for one distributorship has seen a worth improve (1% improve in complete knee alternative implant prices for SD3 over a 3-year time course). Every of the other 9 product strains has not had a worth improve. Seven product strains for two distributorships acquired a worth lower and two have been unchanged. The mixed combination worth change of the three distributorships in was -1.41%.

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From July 2007 to July 2011, the typical value of items in america (CPI) rose by +eight.34% ( Based mostly on this index, the actual worth of the implants bought by the SD decreased by 9.75% over the 4 years in fixed dollars (eight.34% – -1.41%).


The market failure related to the present mannequin of medical system distribution is evidenced by the increase in implant prices despite will increase in volume and increases within the quantity of corporations producing equal merchandise (commoditization).. Any product cleared by the FDA beneath a 510(okay) course of is, by definition, considerably equal to a device at present marketed in america.

In industries the place market forces act, such commoditization should end in dramatically decreased costs to society. The medical system business has been shielded from this as a result of of the unique circumstance whereby there exists separation between the person making the implant selection and the get together having to pay for that selection. Surgeon possession in medical gadget distribution proposes to take away such separation and to determine simpler competition.

In 2009, there was an initial report from a single distributorship finding a 34% reduction in implant costs across three hospital methods (Steinmann and others 2009). No other studies have validated the fee savings associated with this model. This paper represents the first research of a number of SD in multiple states, using many various manufacturers, and presents the effect of this model on the costs of medical units to all contracted hospitals.

It’s notable that value financial savings have been achieved in all merchandise across all studied distributorships. In addition, these savings have been vital, starting from 11% to 69% and totaling $2,456,521, with a mean value financial savings of 36% across all 5 SD. These savings are of importance for the years ahead when considering the anticipated elevated demand and the annual will increase which were the norm for this business.

The 2010-2011 Orthopaedic Business Annual Report (OrthoWorld 2011) cited complete United States orthopedic product gross sales of $23.7 billion, with complete joint reconstruction gross sales at $7.3 billion. The escalation in complete joint implant worth over the 14-year period from 1994 by means of 2006 was reported to be 171% (common 13%) (Healy 2006). Surgeon owned distributorships have proven the power to save lots of 37% the first yr and to maintain annual escalations at or under 1.0%.

The substantial first-year reductions in implant costs and sustained downward strain on annual worth modifications that end result from surgeon possession in medical system distribution may have a profound effect on healthcare costs related to orthopedic implants. The magnitude of value financial savings in complete joint reconstruction is projected in Figure 1. Right here it’s assumed that the 13% annual escalations (reported by Healy 2006) related to NSD would decrease for the subsequent 20 years to 7.5%. It’s further assumed that the SD model, with a first-year discount in value of 36%, would exhibit a 1.5% annual escalation in worth as opposed to the -1.76% change presently demonstrated. Determine 2 makes use of the same assumptions but consists of all orthopedic implants, to reveal the broader potential value financial savings associated with the SD model.

This calculation reveals that over the subsequent 20 years, the SD model has the potential to save lots of $229 billion in complete joint reconstruction prices alone (Fig. 1). This figure doesn’t keep in mind the expected substantial improve in demand that was discussed beforehand, thus in all probability considerably understating the potential long-term savings related to this mannequin. When taking a look at this from the attitude of your complete orthopedic medical system business, the potential financial savings exceed $734 billion over 20 years (Fig. 2).

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The demand will improve by 673% for complete knee replacements and by 174% for complete hip replacements over the subsequent 20 years (Kurtz and others 2007). Funds made to hospitals for complete joint arthroplasties will not be sufficient to maintain up with inflation (Scott and others 2009), inflicting concern for the monetary feasibility of complete joint procedures. With fewer surgeons to offer complete joint procedures (Fehring 2010) and the financial disincentive for hospitals to offer complete joint reconstruction providers, continued entry to those helpful surgical procedures could also be threatened, notably for seniors who characterize the bulk of complete joint reconstruction patients. This menace to access additional intensifies the need for vital change within the methods during which these merchandise are acquired.

Reliable considerations exist relating to this model. Those considerations query if the mannequin will incentivize overutilization or the use of substandard merchandise. Other considerations embrace the diploma of transparency/disclosure and whether surgeons will continue to create such value savings. In a separate ongoing research by the authors of this paper, the utilization of orthopedic implants by seven totally different surgeon distributors are compared to each distributors utilization for a 12-month period prior to the initiation of the distributorship, to research if there’s proof to help that utilization is influenced by this mannequin. Preliminary results point out no change in follow pattern following funding within the surgeon owned distributions underneath research.

A promising response to the considerations relating to the surgeon owned distribution mannequin has been the event of Requirements established by the American Association of Surgeon Distributors (AASD 2011) (Desk 5).

Desk 5. Standards and Criteria for Membership: American Affiliation of Surgeon Distributors

  1. Distributorship must keep a business construction in step with all Federal Stark and Anti-Kickback statutes.
  2. Distributorship should show benefit by proving to be the lowest common value vendor of like implants throughout a comparable contract interval.
  3. Annual worth increases must not exceed Three% above the buyer worth index (CPI).
  4. Distributorship should exhibit adherence to the AASD Product Analysis Coverage.
  5. Distributorship must exhibit adherence to the AASD Worker Training Requirements.
  6. Distributorship must reveal adherence to the AASD Disclosure Policy.
  7. Distributorship should show funding danger and compliance with the AASD Investment and Distribution Coverage.
  8. Distributorship must submit utilization knowledge yearly according to the AASD Utilization Evaluate Policy.
  9. Distributorship must not leverage referrals to any hospital or surgical procedure middle.
  10. Distributorship have to be a reliable free standing stocking Distribution Firm with staff, contracts, handle, enterprise license and insurance coverage.
  11. Distributorship should have written contracts with hospitals and distributors for a minimum of one yr.
  12. Distributorship pricing should not range between hospitals.

These requirements ensure an accredited SD is demonstrating legal compliance, value financial savings, transparency, product quality evaluations, applicable worker training, and utilization reporting.

As surgeons, we have now an obligation to the very best degree of care to the affected person with whom we’ve a relationship. Given the truth of restricted assets, surgeons must be aware of ways to continue to offer the very best high quality of care to their sufferers at prices that our society can afford. Failure to take action will end in a menace to sustained entry to essential medical technologies that have the power to enhance the standard of life.

The SD mannequin is a tested and viable model with nice promise to re-establish market forces and scale back healthcare costs and protect access to beneficial healthcare providers. Safeguards, akin to these established by the AASD, will serve to guard one of the best curiosity of patients and society on an ongoing basis.

1. Kurtz S, Ong Okay, Lau E, Mowat F, Halpern M. Projections of main and revision hip and knee arthroplasty in the USA from 2005 to 2030. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007 Apr;89(Four):780-5.

2. Scott WN, Sales space RE Jr, Dalury DF, Healy WL, Lonner JH. Effectivity and economics in joint arthroplasty. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2009;91:33-6.

Three. 2010 Hip and Knee Implant Worth Comparison. Orthopedic Community News. 2010;21(3):9-12.

Four. Steinmann J, Hopkins G, Burton P, Skubic J. Surgeon Ownership in Medical System Distribution: Economic Analysis of an Present Mannequin. Las Vegas (NV): American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Annual Assembly; 2009 Feb, Scientific Exhibit SE48.

5. The 2010-2011 Orthopaedic Business Annual Report. Chagrin Falls (OH): OrthoWorld; 2011 July.

6. Healy WL. Gainsharing: A primer for orthopaedic surgeons. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006 Aug; 88(eight):1880-7.

7. Fehring TK, Odum SM, Troyer JL, Iorio R, Kurtz SM, Lau EC. Joint alternative access in 2016: a supply aspect crisis. J Arthroplasty. 2010 Dec;25(eight):1175-81.

eight. American Affiliation of Surgeon Distributors (AASD). Requirements and Policies: Distributor Members. [Internet]. Obtainable from: Accessed 2011 July 11.

John C. Steinmann, DO Arrowhead Orthopaedics Redlands, CA

Charles Edwards II, MD The Maryland Backbone Middle Mercy Medical Middle Baltimore, MD

Thomas Eickmann, MD
Cornerstone Orthopaedics and Sports activities Drugs Louisville, CO

Angela Carlson, MHA
Alliance Surgical Distributors, LLC Redlands, CA