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Thad Johnson became CEO of Methodist Sports Medicine/The Orthopedic Specialists on June 15, the first time the 19-physician practice has had a non-physician executive. Johnson most recently was an independent health care consultant in Phoenix, and has previously served as an executive leading physician practices, physician outpatient centers and hospital systems. His mission at Methodist Sports Medicine (which has a partnership with Indiana University Health) is to look for growth opportunities for the 120-employee practice, including potentially bringing in new doctors. He said he’s also trying to establish relationships with employers in the community, who may need Methodist Sports Medicine to help injured workers get back on the job.

IBJ: What’s your outlook for the orthopedic market, particularly given all the changes being driven by the 2010 health reform law?
A: There’s going to be an increased need for orthopedics. If you think about just the demographics. People are living longer. There’s so many more things we can do to help people. Joint replacements used to be 60 and above, now it’s getting down to people in their 40s and 50s.

IBJ: Orthopedics has always been highly competitive here in Indianapolis, between the hospitals and among physician groups like OrthoIndy and Methodist Sports Medicine. Do you think it’s more competitive here than in other markets?
A: It’s as competitive as anywhere. You know that a lot of orthopedic surgeons are current athletes or former athletes who just love that competition. We see people really competing against us. These guys [at Methodist Sports Medicine] have developed a reputation over the last 30 years that is just extraordinary. I just hear these stories everywhere I go. We’re the team physicians for the [Indianapolis] Colts. This contract started in 1984, and it’s a year-to-year contact. And the Colts have renewed it every year.

IBJ: You said Methodist Sports Medicine would like to add more physicians. Why did they need to bring a business executive to do that?
A: They recognize that the market is changing, that they need a sophisticated business executive to approach this as a business. In the past, we’ve had people approach us, both groups and individuals and say, "We want to join you." They need a corporate structure and an infrastructure to grow and expand  their practice. We need to be in a position to pursue the opportunities that are being offered to us. We are in the process of developing a formal business [plan] like any other business. Most medical groups don’t.

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