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Published 1/1/2014
Mary Ann Porucznik

Going Global: AAOS International Initiatives

Demand for education opens opportunities for growth

Why does the Academy have an international presence—and should that presence grow?” asked AAOS President Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, during the 2013 Fall Meeting of the AAOS Board of Councilors and Board of Specialty Societies. “How do expanded international initiatives support the AAOS strategic plan—and what do we risk if we don’t expand that presence? What impact will it have on our U.S. members—and what impact can we have, in the United States and abroad, on enhancing patient care?”

These questions and others were answered during the symposium “AAOS Global Presence and Opportunities for Future Expansion,” which aimed to clarify the Academy’s global initiatives and present potential opportunities.

According to William B. Stetson, MD, chair of the AAOS International Committee, the AAOS already has a long history of successful global collaborations aimed at raising the level of quality patient care around the world. The AAOS Annual Meeting is well attended by international surgeons, who account for approximately a third of all physician attendees. AAOS humanitarian and education programs not only benefit patients but also create demand for AAOS educational products, such as books, videos, and surgical skills courses.

“The more we teach and the broader our reach, the more international orthopaedists want to participate in the AAOS Annual Meeting, to become international affiliate members, and to use AAOS educational products. This leads to translation and distribution contracts that generate enhanced revenues for the Academy,” noted Dr. Stetson.

The international community currently generates an average of $5.6 million in revenues to the AAOS—80 percent of which is reinvested in U.S. domestic initiatives that benefit AAOS members. The number of international affiliate members has grown steadily since 1997 and, at about 17 percent of the total AAOS membership, generates an average of $2 million in dues a year.

“About half of all international members specialize in joint reconstruction and/or trauma,” noted Lisa Cannada, MD, who chairs the AAOS Membership Committee. “More than a third have been members for 5 or more years. They value the AAOS for its emphasis on education and research, for the quality of the products produced by the AAOS, and for access to programs such as the Annual Meeting and products such as the Journal of the AAOS.”

However, noted Dr. Cannada, the AAOS needs to review its membership benefits and strategies for attracting international members. A different pricing strategy may be needed in low-income countries, for example, and consideration must be given to local customs and conditions. “We cannot rely on brand loyalty,” she cautioned.

New offerings for a global community
“The Council on Education is concerned,” said Council Chair Edward Akelman, MD, “not only about the market for AAOS products and services in the United States, but also about the evolving world market.” According to Dr. Akelman, the U.S. market is “mature and saturated,” and the AAOS is competing with a variety of educational opportunities and products—including “free” materials.

“Many of the Academy’s ‘old standards’ that once were blockbuster best sellers are slowly but steadily losing ground to new competition,” he noted. “But new market opportunities can be found outside the United States, where there is wide variation in education and gaps that Academy can address with custom-tailored programming.

“As the educational focus shifts from products to content, our ability to custom-tailor programs and content is enhanced,” he continued. “These new models will foster scientific exchanges between nations and specialists, which, in turn, will support improved patient care.”

With regard to the involvement by specialty societies in the development of global programming, products, and content development, Dr. Akelman noted that the AAOS International Committee has worked with specialty societies for many years. He and Dr. Stetson agreed that opportunities may expand as programming becomes more strategically focused, can be brought to market more quickly, and can be delivered to a global market.

“Every government in the world is spending more on health care,” noted Dr. Jacobs, “and the world’s population is growing older and more affluent, creating an increased demand for access to orthopaedic care. The AAOS is committed to maximizing the long-term benefits that an expanded international initiative can bring to the organization domestically, and to orthopaedics and patient care globally.”

Mary Ann Porucznik is the managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at porucznik@aaos.org