Strategies for Deficit Recovery for the Orthopaedic Service Line: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic: AOA Critical Issues Symposium

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The Journal of bone and joint surgery


ABSTRACT: The COVID-19 pandemic and the mandated cessation of surgical procedures for a substantial portion of the 2020 year placed tremendous strain, both clinically and financially, on the health-care system in the United States. As a surgical specialty that accounts for nearly a quarter of all hospital net income, the revenue recovery of orthopaedic service lines (OSLs) is of particular importance to the financial recovery of their broader health-care institutions. In this American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) symposium report, the OSL leaders from 4 major academic medical institutions explain and reflect on their approaches to address their revenue deficits. Cost-reduction strategies, such as tightening budgets, adopting remote-work models, and limiting costs of human capital, were vital to stabilizing departmental finances at the onset of the pandemic, while strategies that focused on expanding surgical volume, such as those that improve efficiency in clinical and surgical settings, were important in growing revenue once elective procedures resumed. Institutional policy, payer administrative procedures, and the overall context of an ongoing public health crisis all placed limitations on recovery efforts, but engaging relevant stakeholders and working with available resources helped OSLs overcome these limitations. Due to clear strategic actions that were taken to address their deficits, each OSL represented in this AOA symposium saw substantial improvement in its year-end financial performance compared with its financial status at the end of the period of mandatory cessation of elective surgical cases.

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ePub ahead of print