Dr. Robert Armstrong Remarks on Efforts to Improve Hip and Knee Replacement Surgeries

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Blue Cross Blue Shield has started a new initiative to improve hip and knee replacements for Michigan residents. Dr. Robert Armstrong supports the initiative, but believes more could be done if the United States had a national joint registry, which many other countries have implemented.

A Wall Street Journal news article has reported that Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and 12 Michigan hospitals have started a new initiative to improve hip and knee replacements for thousands of residents. The collaboration between BCBS and the hospitals will save the state about $232 million and improve the quality of hip and knee replacements. Additionally, the initiative could reduce the chances of patients needing subsequent surgeries to repair or replace implants. Dr. Robert Armstrong, who specializes in hip and knee replacements, applauds the BCBS’ and Michigan hospitals’ efforts, but thinks more people could be reached if the United States created a national joint registry.

The participating hospitals will share data from the Michigan Arthroplasty Registry Collaborative Quality Initiative and then use this information to develop best practices for the joint replacements. Orthopedic surgeons will share their findings with each other and figure out the best way to achieve effective, quality results. Dr. Robert Armstrong plans to monitor the initiative to determine if any of the information could be beneficial to his own patients.

“Our data registry will first focus on how to improve the outcomes right after surgery, helping reduce the number of infections and other complications,” said Dr. Brian Hallstrom, Clinical Leader of the arthroplasty initiative and Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Michigan. “Then we’ll also take a longer-term approach to see what changes could improve the outcome, such as implant choice or other factors.”

Dr. Hallstrom asserts that hip and knee replacement surgeries costs between $20,000 and $30,000. Subsequent replacement and revision surgeries can cost three or four times more, and often require longer hospital stays. Dr. Hallstrom predicts that the initiative will catch problems with implants and other aspects of surgery early on in an effort to avoid complications and revision surgeries. He believes it will reduce the trouble and pain that patients experience, as well as the cost to the healthcare system.

In the past 10 years, Dr. Robert Armstrong has performed more than 1,800 joint replacement surgeries. He averages about 180 joint surgeries each year. Dr. Robert Armstrong said that a national joint surgery registry could help improve results. Dr. Robert Armstrong looks forward to following the initiative and seeing how it will affect hip and knee replacement surgery patients in Michigan.


Dr. Robert Armstrong, of West Penn Orthopedics, has years of experience in adult reconstructive surgery and sports medicine. He specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of injuries and diseases regarding the musculoskeletal system. His goal is to get patients out of pain and back to their independent lifestyles. Dr. Armstrong treats patients of all ages at his offices in Clarion and DuBois, Pennsylvania. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit drarmstrong.com.

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Michael McGarety
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