Dr. Michael Meneghini, 37, in July became the first orthopedic surgeon at the Indiana Clinic, a physician practice being formed by the Clarian Health hospital system and the Indiana University School of Medicine. Until two years ago, he was part of the Indianapolis orthopedic practice Joint Replacement Surgeons of Indiana, working mainly at St. Vincent hospitals. After a two-year stint at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Meneghini returned to Indianapolis to be near family.
IBJ: Just about any hospital system would welcome a new orthopedic surgeon. What caused you to choose Clarian and the Indiana Clinic?
Meneghini: The mission of the Indiana Clinic matches the mission of me but also the future of health care: patient-driven, quality outcomes, research that drives the quality outcomes and education. Our goal is to build a robust orthopedic department [with all sub-specialties] within the Indiana Clinic that embodies those three core pieces of the mission: quality, research, education.
IBJ: Just a few years ago, it was unusual to hear of orthopedic surgeons becoming employees of any hospital system. Why is it happening so much now?
Meneghini: I wish I could tell you it’s not financially driven, but it is. Costs to operate their businesses have continued to rise, but reimbursement has been stagnant. We’ve reached a point where things are starting to tip, where the balance between that fierce independence and financial stability is about the same, but starting to tip. You can see the writing on the wall. The hospitals have the power. And the sooner you realize that. I’d rather bite it right now and get ahead of the wave.
IBJ: What are the biggest changes you are expecting in the business of orthopedic surgery over the next five to 10 years?
Meneghini: Now it is all about cost containment, and the future is bringing technology to market, at a low cost, because of the health care system and reform. There’s a lot of funding out there for outcomes-driven research as opposed to bench-top research. There’s no doubt a shift toward that kind of innovation. It’s harder for me because I have an engineering background, and I think resources for that [type of research] will be more constrained. Having said that, I also enjoy doing database [outcomes] research.