Oh Wait, We Are Getting a Device Registry (Although Not Any Time Soon)

Update on my October 11 post about a national device registry: apparently we have one in the making.

(To briefly recap, a device registry is a database that links patient and surgeon data at the individual level with the implant that was used, the date of the procedure, and ultimately the health outcomes and subsequent events (e.g. repeat surgeries, complications). The benefits are two-fold: to identify device malfunctions and safety issues as they arise, and to make definitive, sorely-missing assessments on just how well different devices perform.)

In late 2010, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons founded the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR), which seeks to develop a national registry for total joint replacements. They completed their one-year pilot project this past February and partnered with registry vendor Remedy Informatics to launch the live version of their project, which is open to collecting data from hospitals.

Unfortunately, it appears to be an uphill struggle. Some evidence:

  • Between August 2011 and February 2012 (when AJRR completed its pilot project), AJRR already revised its goal from 90% participation by the end of 2013 to the end of 2015.
  • A google news search of “american joint replacement registry” yields a measly 8 results, one of which reports only 40 participating hospitals as of last week. (Based on an estimated 6,000 hospitals nationwide, that’s 0.7% participation guys.)
  • They are currently only ready to collect what’s called “level one data”, which includes basic patient, surgeon, procedure, and hospital data. It will take “level three data” (there are four levels in total) to get to outcomes and patient satisfaction data, which is arguably needed for this to bring much value.

I’m really rooting for this thing because I think it’s something we sorely need. Looks like I will be rooting for quite some time yet.

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