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Medical Society Aims to Change the World of Orthopedics

How the International Society of Orthopaedic Centers, a group of high-level orthopedic surgeons, is turning small meetings into global progress.

Medical Meetings Magazine—September 9, 2010

When Thomas P. Sculco, MD, was starting out, he spent months working in several European hospitals, something that was, and still is, pretty unusual for a young American doc. “I wanted to see how things were done in different environments so I could learn and bring those perspectives into my own practice,” says Sculco, who now is surgeon-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery, a large academic- and research-focused orthopedics, rheumatology, and rehabilitation hospital in New York.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find him as the driving force behind the creation of the International Society of Orthopaedic Centers. ISOC’s meetings bring together musculoskeletal specialists from the largest academic and research-focused orthopedic centers in the world to exchange ideas and cutting-edge practices, and to collaborate on finding ways to improve patient care, physician education, and research-based programs. The ultimate goal, he says, is to generate best practices that have been tested in these large facilities, and then share these benchmarks to improve orthopedic care worldwide.

Though the society is only four years old and the ink is still drying on its official nonprofit-status papers, the three meetings ISOC has already held have set it well on its way toward reaching that admittedly lofty goal.


One thing that’s not in short supply is meetings for orthopedic surgeons. There’s the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which draws tens of thousands each year. Then there are the societies for those who specialize in spines, and hips, and knees, and hands, and shoulders. Do we really need yet another meeting?

Most definitely, says Claudio Mella, MD, current ISOC chairman and coordinator for international activities with the Clinica Alemana in Santiago, Chile. “The other meetings are for learning new treatments and scientific advances. ISOC does not provide specific instruction about, for example, how to put in a screw. It’s about developing strategies that will let us improve education and scientific activities.”

“We have different aims than other meetings,” says Beat Simmen, MD, PhD, chairman of upper extremity and hand surgery at the Schulthess Klinik in Zurich. “Of course, techniques are a part of it—when doctors get together, they will talk about what they do and how to do it better. But we focus on the larger picture: how politics and economics affect what we do, and how we can stay ahead of all that to improve the main things at the core of our daily work—education, patient care, and research.” Simmen, who is a past ISOC chairman, explains that because orthopedics is such a large and fast-growing segment of national health budgets, there is increasing pressure on orthopedic surgeons and orthopedic institutions around the world to document not only what they are doing but also the efficiency and efficacy (as measured in the cost of “quality life years”) of their work. There is a growing need to develop quality-management systems that can accomplish this, but the financial and manpower costs involved are high. Another key challenge in orthopedics today is the need to standardize processes and procedures within the orthopedic community. “These questions are at the core of ISOC,” says Simmen.

Read the full story at meetingsnet.com.


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