The changing world of sports medicine and utilizing partnerships to improve your marketing strategy
John Carney M.S., is the director of business development of sports medicine at Orlando Health in Orlando, Florida. He’s been serving the healthcare industry for over 11 years and during his time at Orlando Health, as we have at Dodge, John has seen a lot change in the industry. He’s helped grow the sports medicine service line with Orlando Health and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children (APH) and created the Play It Forward sports injury prevention education program in Orlando, which provides free resources and live instruction to the Central Florida community. In this interview, John shares some prevention tips on common sports injuries and healthcare trends he’s seen during his professional career.
Dodge: What made you decide you wanted to pursue sports medicine as a career?
Carney: I love my career because it combines two of my biggest passions, sports and I’m a huge science nerd. I love science, I took physics and calculus for fun in school!
Dodge: What are the most common injuries you see in sports medicine at Arnold Palmer Hospital?
Carney: We see everything from joint issues to concussions. Once children reach middle school, we see a lot of knees and shoulders. You may have heard this stat before, but female athletes in sports where you’re cutting (like basketball or soccer) can be 6-8x more at risk of tearing their ACL than males. Once they’re into high school, we see worn out joints, overuse injuries and traumatic injuries.
Dodge: Do you have some top recommendations of how kids can avoid these injuries?
Carney: We’d recommend for kids to 1) rotate their sports schedule (not playing the same sport year-round), 2) always be sure to warm up properly before activities and 3) make sure parents and coaches inspect protective equipment regularly.
Dodge: Switching gears a little bit, you’ve been with Orlando Health for 11 years – you must have seen a lot of different healthcare trends come and go in sports medicine. In your experience, what have been the most significant healthcare trends to shape and change the industry?
Carney: When I started in the field, we hadn’t started healthcare reform. With healthcare reform and the ACA, there have been lots of changes that have helped shape what we do. Healthcare, as you probably know, is transforming from fee-for-service to a value-based care model. We’re in the middle of that shift right now. There will be a point where healthcare providers will be reimbursed based on outcomes and quality and not for each thing. Bundled payments are another trend we’ve seen and we’ve prepared for the value-based model, such as receiving one bundled payment for an ACL injury. We’ve prepared for this by staying efficient in our staffing, throughputs and negotiating with vendors to provide the best services and receive the best supplies to keep our costs down so that we can be profitable. And if outcomes aren’t good, we could face costly penalties associated with readmissions.
Another trend we see, especially in pediatric sports medicine, is every year there are more and more overuse injuries in adolescent athletes. A lot are attributed to parents wanting their child to be the next Tiger Woods or Michael Phelps. This is due to youths playing one sport year-round, which is definitely not recommended by orthopedic sports medicine physicians. We recommend balancing with multiple sports throughout the year for healthy growth.
The other reason we see injuries is a lack of education, especially from parents. Coaches for example in little league baseball, know pitch counts and that you shouldn’t let kids throw more than they’re supposed to. The problem is, a lot of kids are playing in multiple leagues at the same time. So they might be pitching later that weekend and parents don’t know this is a risk of injury. We see 12-13 year olds come in and their shoulder or elbow is done. We have athletic trainers to provide free education to parents, athletes and coaches to avoid overuse injuries, dehydration and concussions. They teach ‘what can you do to minimize risk for concussion?’ and ‘what signs to look for?’
Dodge: How do you reach them?
Carney: We reach out directly through school athletic directors, county school boards to get the word out about educational meetings, non-school leagues (little leagues) and through traditional media and marketing like billboards, brochures and fun giveaways.
Dodge: What trends do you anticipate will shape sports medicine the most in 2015?
Carney: Trends we have to be thinking about include the probability of continued Medicaid cuts; we see a pretty significant Medicaid population at APH. It forces us to continue to improve our inefficiencies, which is something really important. Making sure our staff, clinicians and physicians are all ready for and properly using ICD-10 and adhering to each individual department by contributing to and following the rules of Meaningful Use – there are very large penalties associated with that.
Another trend is managing the very rapidly evolving world of electronic medical records (EMRs). Many healthcare systems have over 100 different types of software that don’t always talk to each other. It’s the most expensive challenge that hospitals and health systems are facing.
And we’ll plan to continue pushing the community outreach and education this year to try and decrease preventable injuries that come in to the clinic.
Dodge: Can you tell us about any successful healthcare advertising campaigns you’ve participated in with Orlando Health?
Carney: The biggest thing we’ve done was a very significant partnership with Orlando City Soccer, our first MLS team in Orlando, for their first season this year. We partnered with them when they came to town 4 years ago as a minor league team. From a PR/marketing perspective, this campaign has linked the community to our sports medicine program at Orlando Health and APH. As the presenting sponsor, we get to have our logo on the front of their jerseys, our medical providers take care of the professionals and we are the medical providers for Orlando City Youth Soccer which includes thousands of kids that play in weekend leagues through the major league soccer team.
Partnerships are very important to us. Kohl’s is one of our biggest partners with a 7 year relationship together. At the front of each store, they sell plush, stuffed animals as part of their “Kohl’s Cares” program. Half of all the proceeds go towards a child’s healthcare partner. So, in Central Florida, they partner with APH to support our community education outreach called Play It Forward. The website has injury prevention tips, it’s interactive and targeted to younger kids. This partnership funds a full-time athletic trainer to be out in community providing free injury prevention education in the Orlando community.