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Key Takeaways: 2021 AAHKS Annual Meeting

Last week, Force Therapeutics sent a team of rock star members, including our founder and CEO, Bronwyn Spira, to the 2021 American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. This is an event we look forward to every year, in which we get the chance to connect with our valued client partners, gain further insights into current trends, interact with innovative research studies, and network with leaders in the industry.

At the event we were able to reconnect with some of our partner clients including Dartmouth Medical Center, Geisinger, Hartford Healthcare, ValueHealth, Baudax Bio, and Northside Hospital in person and explore the Academy Hall.

Here are the key takeaways from the 2021 AAHKS Annual Meeting:

To wrap up a successful event, our team members who were in attendance shared thoughtful key takeaways from the week, including the following topics:

  • The wants and needs of care teams and physicians
  • Kinematic alignment
  • Infection
  • Surgical devices, wearables, and sensors
  • PROMs collection
  • Patient education
  • Same day discharge
  • Alternatives to opioids

Care teams and physicians: wants & needs

Remote care management practices that minimize care team and physician time and resource consumption are vital in boosting efficiency within a large health system and reduce burn out. Digital care platforms as a solution to streamline onboarding of non-op patients to pursue conservative treatment is growing in popularity.

Scalable digital care platforms

However, these capabilities need to be scalable in a way that does not heavily burden overloaded care teams with the addition of non-op patients. Effective care management starts with an intuitive platform that streamlines manual processes, using AI and data-backed historical outcomes to drive successful care journeys.

Outsourcing ASCs for operations

Recent staff shortages among nurses, navigators, and medical assistants is pushing surgeons to seek out ASCs to operate and participate in to optimize OR time and allow surgeons more control in how they operate. Yet, this requires considerable financial pull, which is often not possible for many surgeons affected by the lack of numbers in vital staff resources.

Kinematic alignment

Kinematic alignment (KA) is an alternative approach for aligning a total knee replacement (TKR) that has resulted in much happier and more satisfied patients undergoing knee replacements overall. This novel approach restores the constitutional knee joint line orientation and physiological knee laxity without needing to release soft-tissue.

Shifting towards KA is a trend in TKRs that we will continue to see, and an avenue of research we intend to explore.


Infection is by far the number one cause of surgical failure and need for revision.

Ways to prevent post-op infection, aside from surgical technique, include:

  • Proper patient education in wound care and,
  • patient monitoring post-op.

We can support these efforts by providing educational videos and messaging capabilities that allow patients to ask questions or send photos of their wounds to their care team in order to prevent any early infection from progressing.

Surgical devices, wearables, and sensors

Surgical device technology

Surgical device technologies including mechanical alignment and robotics are on the radar of many orthopedic surgeons and physicians, however, there is minimal data around these devices to justify cost and times required to be compared to outcomes. Furthermore, as of now, there is no clear standardization in robot selection criteria. We anticipate further research in the near future to answer these valuable questions for the future of healthcare.

Wearables and sensor technology

Technology such as wearables and sensors continue to grow in popularity as they can combine with remote patient monitoring technology to provide a clear patient status report in real-time. Clinicians are becoming more aware of the value this type of technology offers in a remote care setting.

Marrying Data Across the Episode of Care

With increasing use of wearable technology, efficiently integrating and streamlining data through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) is becoming critical.

Force Therapeutics plays an important role in complementing and contributing to these data; from preoperative to postoperative patient reported outcomes, our platform generates a comprehensive scope of the patient and their experience throughout their episode of care.

PROMs collection

Patient reported outcomes continue to be the driving force for all health systems, and the collection of PROs is a critical component to electronic health records (EHR). This is one of the most important metrics physicians and care teams look for and can inform a lot of decisions around patient care and interventions.

Digital care platforms that have ability to intelligently collect PROs, promote patient compliance for completing PROMS, and integrate with EHRs.

Patient education

Patient education has always been top of mind in the orthopedic industry, and the need for robust patient education systems is perpetually growing. Patient education integrates into every stage of the care journey, with emphasis on pre-operative education. Patient education has the power to revolutionize outcome collections rate when education opportunities are given at strategic points throughout care.

Incision site evaluation

Empowering patients as key players in their care with knowledge and the ability to identify infection has become extremely beneficial in incision site evaluation. This ability not only promotes patients having active roles in their care, it also can prevent future complications, and identifies necessary intervention.

Same Day Discharge

In alignment with prior years at AAHKS, the importance of same day discharge (SSD) is continuously emphasized. The pandemic made it especially crucial to avoid stressing hospital inpatient resources, and has thus driven same day discharge to become even more mainstream. While most of our clients have already implemented SDD, it is still very much a work in progress amongst many surgeons and sites.

SSD is now becoming common practice within the orthopedic world, and this can largely be attributed to the development of digital care technologies.

Many factors go into supporting the shift to SDD including:


To support this shift, we recently conducted a study to investigate the relationship between digital technology and to activate same day discharge with the total joint population. The results showed that providers can maintain patient reported outcomes, patient satisfaction, and patient safety to support the shift to same day discharge in the ambulatory surgical setting.

Alternatives to Opioids

Like previous years at AAHKS, opioid sparing continues to be top of mind for many health systems and providers.

Through studies supported by Force Therapeutics, we found that among patients who reported opioid use, the rate of having unused pills and the unused pill count added insight about the relationship between pain, satisfaction, patient outcomes, and opioid use.

Addressing the opioid usage issue

There are two approaches prescribing providers can take to combat opioid over usage:

1.Prescribing fewer opioids in the first place and/or

2.Connecting patients with resources to properly dispose of opioids after their recovery.

The Force Therapeutics’ platform capabilities allow for opioid disposal education to be integrated into patient care plans to ensure that unused opioids do not add to the existing burden of opioid misuse. Effective pain management and pain relief tactics allows for smoother and safe same day discharge and can boost patient satisfaction and PT compliance.

The benefits of a digital patient engagement platform

The 2021 AAHKS annual meeting reiterated the importance of optimizing the many key parts of a patient’s journey, from pre- to post-op care.

This includes addressing care team and provider’s needs to minimize burnout and staff shortages, streamlining outcome collection for insight into organizational improvement opportunities, patient education, preventing infections, wearable and surgical technologies, SDD, and alternatives to opioids.

Tackling these challenges cannot be accomplished without scalable digital technology enablement. We encourage you to explore opportunities to integrate technology into your organization in order to achieve provider-driven, patient centric care.

To learn more about digital technology and the true ROI they provide, read our blog that discusses the major benefits of a digital patient engagement platform.

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