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In joint replacements and other orthopedic surgeries, the many shifting components that go into preparation, the procedure itself and rehabilitation can create complications for patients and health care facilities alike. To better coordinate the providers and services in orthopedics, service lines are increasingly being used, thereby increasing economic value, patient experience and workflow in the process. 

What is a service line?
A service line is a grouping of related services and products. By combining these components into a streamlined process, businesses are able to better focus on serving a particular group of people whose needs are similar. In health care, this strategy allows for separate components of a treatment plan to be more effectively organized and coordinated. Hospitals are increasingly using service lines to improve value based care for their patients. 

Why is it important in orthopedics?
Surgery, rehabilitation and patient care in orthopedics typically require involvement from many different parties. Service lines streamline the process, coordinating the treatment before, during and after the procedure to improve efficiency and outcomes. When providers and other team members are working as a cohesive unit, collaboration and communication is increased, resulting in higher quality patient care.    

Service lines can additionally improve individual components of the orthopedic process, such as operating room efficiency, which play important roles in the overall patient experience. These improvements can also be used to recruit new team members, positioning the hospitals as centers of excellence in the field.   

How does it impact patient outcomes?
By creating a streamlined process in orthopedics, patients receive care that is coordinated from the initial consult to post-surgery services such as pain management and rehabilitation. Increased communication and collaboration among providers can increase patient safety throughout the episode of care, improving outcomes. Additionally, using a service line strategy allows providers to dedicate themselves to a specific procedure within the whole, increasing their depth of knowledge and skill. This ensures that patients receive the best possible care each step of the way. Service lines also help to standardize the orthopedic process, generating better outcomes by using best evidence practices and minimizing variation in care. 

The strategy can also have a positive effect on patient satisfaction, as it typically makes the orthopedic process easier to navigate for those outside of the field. The collaboration additionally improves patient expectations by giving a consistent message. If providers are not communicating, they run the risk of giving patients different information and expectations about their surgery and recovery process. This can result in confusion and unmet promises.

Will it influence value based care?
Bundled payment plans, which make hospitals responsible for entire episodes of care rather than just the initial surgery, are giving health care facilities incentives to streamline their processes, collaborating at every step of the process. Implementing orthopedic service lines helps to achieve these ends, promoting patient-centric, value based care. 

Service lines also eliminate wasteful or duplicate workflows and decrease the patient’s length of stay, additionally improving economic value for both the providers and the patients.