The field of orthopedics has grown significantly over the past few years, and doctors can save lives much more easily than they could decades ago. The good news is that this trend is expected to continue as the industry further evolves.
It will soon be all about the baby boomers
Young medical students interested in orthopedics may be in luck, as the demand for orthopedic surgeons is expected to increase as the baby boomer generation continues to get older. This is because as these adults age, so will their joints. Also, this generation in particular has showed signs of being more active than those before them, and researchers predict that this will not change even once they retire.
While engaging in physical activity can help keep chronic conditions at bay, refusing to slow down may lead excessive pressure on the joints and the need for joint replacements.
As of 2012, there were approximately 75 million baby boomers living in the U.S., most of whom were closer to retiring, according to U.S. News & World Report. This number increased by 2.2. million between 2000 and 2010.
The retirement of baby boomers will affect country in many aspects, including healthcare. Since these individuals are expected to live long, they will require more medical intervention than the average person has in the past. This will ultimately increase the nation's healthcare expenditure, but for orthopedics, this means more business.
As the baby boomers age, orthopedic practices may begin to see that a greater share of their reimbursements are coming from Medicare and other federal and state-funded programs, The Global Dispatch reported. This will be because private insurers may not have adequate funds available to address rising healthcare costs. All around, funding will be a major challenge within the medical industry going forward since there is not yet a single-payer system in place.
Technology continues to advance
Although juggling an increase in patients as well as cost may be a challenge for orthopedic practices, there is a lot of excitement expected in the near future. Most orthopedic professionals have already seen electronic health record and clinical archiving systems make diagnostic images more accessible than they used to be, as well as improve communication with radiology. Along with health information technology, new innovations are being developed to make surgery minimally invasive, faster and easier on both surgeons and patients. For instance, treating broken bones is now a lot easier with advanced X-ray imaging and intramedullary rods.
Less-invasive surgeries will be huge in the future as new technologies continue to emerge. Arthroscopy and related procedures are responsible for the dramatic increase in the number of outpatient cases. While there are only a few orthopedic procedures of this nature that can be done on an outpatient basis, this is expected to change in several years. Getting people in and out with minimal recovery to follow can lead to better patient satisfaction.