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First Vice President Felix H. (Buddy) Savoie III, MD, FAAOS, told the Your Academy audience that his priority as president will be β€œin short, to make things easier for our AAOS members to take care of our patients.”

AAOS Now

Published 9/3/2021
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Terry Stanton

First Vice President Felix H. (Buddy) Savoie III, MD, Speaks to the Value of AAOS Membership

Addressing the audience at Your Academy 2021 on Thursday, First Vice President Felix H. (Buddy) Savoie III, MD, FAAOS, who will become president in March 2022, first sought to clarify the perspective from which he was speaking. Given the unusual timing of this year’s Annual Meeting, Thursday’s session featured speeches from Dr. Savoie, as well as Immediate Past President Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, and President Daniel K. Guy, MD, FAAOS. “I am also currently the first vice president of the Academy, but, for this meeting, I am speaking to you as the second vice president,” Dr. Savoie explained.

After taking care of that housekeeping, Dr. Savoie spoke straightforwardly about the emphasis of his presidency, which will commence next year.

“My main goal is to support fully our members in the practice of orthopaedic surgery: In short, I want to make it easier for AAOS members to take care of their patients,” he said. He noted that, “with 20 years of private practice and 15 years of academic practice, plus a couple as a hospital-employed physician”—not to mention an international reputation as an educator that he eschewed mentioning—“I have the background and experience to relate to all members and their frustrations with the current healthcare environment.”

Dr. Savoie spoke specifically to some of the bureaucratic and financial snares that bedevil orthopaedic surgeons as they strive to provide optimal care to their patients.

“Since I started a year and half ago, with leadership and support from Dr. Bosco and Dr. Guy, we have been striving to make prior authorization processes less rigorous and time-consuming and to get a relative value unit assigned to peer-to-peer reviews,” he said.

Since joining the AAOS Presidential Line, he said he has seen “a multiplicity of insurance companies trying to institute gross denial of care and demanding unreasonable effort on surgeons’ part to try to help folks get well.” He described these denials, which occur in all areas of orthopaedic surgery, as “mostly egregious and arbitrary, making no sense other than to deny necessary care and harm patients.” The worst of these offenses, he said, was a recent attempt to simply deny spinal cord monitoring during spine surgery. “All it would take is one quadriplegic patient to destroy any supposed insurance company savings, not to mention the devastating effect on someone’s life and health and the guilt we would all carry from this happening,” Dr. Savoie said. “I am proud to say that Joe and Danny grasped the importance immediately and with much help have temporarily delayed the implementation.”

Yet singular success stories such as this one, accomplished by AAOS leadership and the Office of Government Relations, are not a permanent solution, but “more of a ‘whack-a-mole’ approach which has us losing ground every year,” Dr. Savoie said. “Success should not be treading water but swimming to win. We have to find a better approach. I can assure you that the full might of the AAOS is working hard on this issue, but only with member engagement and support can we make a difference and help our patients.”

Dr. Savoie reserved time in his speech to credit his colleagues in leadership and on staff. “Having worked with Joe Bosco on the OLC Education & Conference Center I knew he would be amazing, but to find out Danny Guy grew up 10 miles from my wife, Amy, in western Kentucky and then to experience his mastery of leadership and communication as well as consensus building; to get to know the brilliance and toughness of [2019–2020 President] Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS, in person; and now to experience the wonderful intellect of Second Vice President Kevin J. Bozic, MD, MBA, FAAOS, I feel blessed,” Dr. Savoie said.

“The AAOS staff, led by Chief Executive Officer Thomas E. Arend Jr, Esq., CAE, and Chief Operating Officer Dino Damalas are incredible, and Director of Governance Donna Malert’s talents are incredibly superb,” Dr. Savoie said. “It is my honor to serve this organization and I will try my best to do a good job and be worthy of your trust.”

Terry Stanton is the senior medical writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at tstanton@aaos.org.