One of the greatest challenges facing orthopedic surgeons today is the steadily declining Medicare reimbursement rate for most procedures. In effect, surgeons are being forced to work harder for less money, and this can be extremely problematic for anyone trying to maintain the status quo, let alone experience real growth in their practice. Clearly, some kind of steps must be taken, or you’ll run the risk of continually reduced payments while investing more and more effort just to stay afloat.
History of declining reimbursements
A study was recently published in the Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, which detailed the steady decline of Medicare payments over the past 20 years. National reimbursement averages were calculated in this study by consulting the Physician Fee Schedule for those years and adjusting average prices for inflation by applying the consumer price index. Using this approach, it was determined that the average price for the 20 procedures most commonly performed by surgeons had dropped a whopping 30 percent over the past two decades.
In addition, surgeons who were paid an average of $906 for a procedure in the year 2000, received only $632 for the same procedure in 2019. For each year of the 20-year period, it was determined that reimbursement rates dropped 1.8 percent and that the annual growth rate for arthroscopic surgery reimbursement was -1.9 percent. These statistics make it quite clear that the reimbursement rates for orthopedic surgeons over the past two decades have been in continual decline, and the expectation is that this downward trend will continue into the foreseeable future.
Making up the difference
Given the fact that an orthopedic surgeon can expect gradually lower payments for procedures and services rendered, how can the difference be made up so as to keep a practice on an even keel?
Some surgeons have already discovered the tremendous benefits offered by laser therapy as part of their practice, and even concentrating their practice on laser therapy. There is no question that laser therapy has proven to be a huge boon to patients in need of pain management with none of the side effects of painkillers.
Consider laser therapy if you want an economical alternative for patients and for orthopedic surgeons as well. Once your practice has been set up to feature laser therapy, the ongoing costs are minimal, and the reimbursements will remain steady, at least for a lengthy period of time. Having established your practice as one of the best choices for chronic pain management, you should have no shortage of clientele, and it may be expected that you can then begin making up the difference on all those lower reimbursements you’ve been receiving for other orthopedic procedures.
Setting up your practice as a laser therapy franchise supported by OrthoLazer can be just what the doctor ordered for keeping your practice healthy in today’s highly competitive medical world.
OrthoLazer Orthopedic Laser Centers offer patients and their doctors an innovative and effective alternative pain management option to treat acute and chronic orthopedic conditions. Founded by Dr. Scott Sigman – the original opioid-sparing surgeon – our centers further his mission of providing his patients non-operative and non-opioid treatment options. If you’d like more information about OrthoLazer, please visit our website at ortholazer.com.