|An Orthopedic Device View from the Sports Desk|
Michael Kaplan, chief medical correspondent for ESPN, reflects on sports medicine and the orthopedic industry
|Dr. Michael Kaplan|
Whether it’s Peyton Manning or partial knee replacements, Dr. Michael Kaplan never seems to be short of an opinion.
As chief medical correspondent for ESPN since 2004, Kaplan has had a sideline view of some of the biggest cases in sports medicine. As an orthopedic surgeon, he has worked closely with the orthopedic device industry on new products—albeit not as closely of late thanks to new regulations.
”It has been more difficult than it has been in the past for physicians and industry to hold hands,” Kaplan says. He partnered with instrumentation manufacturer Biomet to develop a partial knee replacement and several other devices in the past but stepped away from the industry around 2007, when the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) enforcement of antikickback laws made working with device makers too burdensome.
Kaplan says the extensive regulations the DOJ placed on orthopedic surgeons required an extreme amount of paperwork and more out-of-pocket expenses on the part of physicians, so it was no longer economically feasible for him to work with manufacturers to develop orthopedic devices. It’s also an issue that he sees for younger doctors, as there is no incentive for them to work with the industry either.
However, with his keynote address at Orthotec 2013, Kaplan hopes to reengage with the orthopedics industry.
Through his work with ESPN, Kaplan says he feels that he has more recognition as an orthopedist as well as a better understanding of how the public sees sports medicine, both of which could benefit device makers. He is also involved with the medical school at Yale University and helps out with a fellowship in sports medicine, where he mentors the next generation of orthopedists – something that he feels is more important now than ever, as the climate of the industry is changing with the implementation of of the Affordable Care Act. Kaplan says the device industry needs to be aware how the orthopedic world, not to mention the medical industry at large, has changed as a result of healthcare reform in the United States. A lot has changed even since Kaplan started practicing medicine, according to colleagues.
“There’s been a huge improvement in technology over the years, and I think it’s really improved his results with athletes throughout his career,” said Dr. Erik Carlson, chief resident for sports medicine at Yale University, who has worked with Kaplan in his practice.
As Kaplan sees it, the industry faces challenges over the next two to three decades. For starters, Baby Boomers will require more total knee and hip replacements. That will be paired with a significant crunch in available revenue. With the nation’s healthcare system changing under the Affordable Care Act, there are significant hurdles ahead for device makers.
“We’re going to have to somehow meet that crisis,” Kaplan says. “We’re going to have to make more affordable components, make more standardized prostheses, make availability important, and still give the kind of service that our population expects without the sort of tardiness and the waits seen in the socialized nations. There is a quandary ahead between quality and cost that we must meet together.”
Kaplan says these issues will come to a head in the future, and he feels the challenge is met best by industry working with physicians. Going forward, industry should focus on efficiencies and clinicial cooperation.