Throughout history, there have been times when technology reached a tipping point, advancing on a number of fronts and then having a major impact on how we do things. From the industrial age to the space age, technology has not only helped make our lives easier, but has also challenged us to think and act in different ways.
Daniel J. Berry, MD
Such a mindset will be invaluable in this year, and in the years ahead, as a number of issues converge. These issues include the following:
- the increased need for our services by a booming, aging population
- the development of new learning technologies and surgical techniques
- the incorporation of electronic record keeping, communication, and education into our clinical and research activities
- the increased emphasis on quality in medicine and reporting of comparative outcomes
- the emphasis on healthcare reform, the goals of which are to increase patients’ access to care, while managing the costs of that care, and ensuring the delivery of appropriate, cost-effective services
A broad definition
In my address, I proposed that we define “orthopaedic education” more broadly than we have in the past, and that we act accordingly. Technology—in particular, the Internet—has revolutionized how we seek and acquire knowledge. In the past year, we have seen how cell phone videos, Facebook pages, and “tweets” have changed how we receive breaking news from around the world. Similar exciting technologies can be employed to deliver orthopaedic information and education.
The OrthoPortal is one example of how your Academy is using Web-based learning technologies to expand access to orthopaedic education. The OrthoPortal, at www.orthoportal.org, is a single access point for all of the Academy’s educational materials, including Orthopaedic Knowledge Online, Journal of the AAOS (JAAOS), video libraries, online books, self-assessment materials, and patient education materials. Within months, the OrthoPortal will also bring you access to the entire content of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, American.
As the OrthoPortal expands, so will your ability to access orthopaedic information. Think how mobile access to OrthoPortal could help you in the clinic. You could instantly look up a key reference to simplify or enhance a patient’s care.
According to William A. Grana, MD, editor-in-chief of the OrthoPortal, who addressed the Board of Directors at a workshop on technology in education held in December 2010, this is “user-centric” learning. The emphasis is on providing education that the learner wants and needs, when and where he or she needs it. That’s a huge shift from the educational model most of us grew up with.
New education and communications technologies not only benefit us in the United States, but also provide great opportunities for dissemination and exchange of orthopaedic education and information world wide. Recently, when I traveled abroad to orthopaedic meetings, I have been amazed by how much faster orthopaedic ideas and knowledge travel than was the case even 5 years ago. This ability to exchange information world wide quickly and cost effectively can provide great potential benefits to orthopaedic patients everywhere.
New technologies in action
New technologies like the OrthoPortal have enormous potential to revolutionize how the AAOS meets its mission “to advance the highest quality musculoskeletal health.” And your Academy is committed to building strength and capability in this area. Smartphone apps already bring you AAOS Now, and you—and your patients—can become “friends” of the AAOS on Facebook or follow the Academy’s achievements on Twitter.
At this year’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, many of these technologies were evident. Attendees had the opportunity to use OrthoPortal and to set up their own personal Web sites. They could take advantage of an app for navigating the meeting. Daily versions of the AAOS Headline News Now e-newsletter brought research, advocacy, and meeting news to their electronic devices. Simulator technologies for learning surgery were available for testing. Next year, an app will enable AAOS fellows planning to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting in San Francisco to read key abstracts and plan their visit to maximize the educational value of their time.
New technologies will help us identify surgical and nonsurgical treatments that are most effective for our patients. The AAOS led the initiative to create the American Joint Replacement Registry, which is beginning to amass patient data that can help us not only improve the quality of care but also reduce costs. We are committed to using what we have learned through the clinical practice guidelines development process and to supporting the development of appropriate use criteria to inform indications for diagnostic tests and treatments.
This is our “technology moment.” The challenge before us is to apply the whole spectrum of emerging technologies in a way that provides the most benefit to our patients and our profession. As Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, wrote, “Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible.” We need to make access to information easier, to help ensure the accuracy of the information, to support appropriate disclosure, and to encourage interactivity, outreach, and peer-to-peer learning.
I said in San Diego that we can—and must—accomplish a great deal over the coming years to build the strongest possible future for our profession. The AAOS will invest in education, advocacy, quality, research, and infrastructure to keep orthopaedics the most forward-looking surgical specialty.