Archive Orthopedic Surgery 2018

Founder of the Famed Rothman Institute Slowing Down (Sort of) After 50 Years in the OR

Q&A with Richard H. Rothman, MD, PhD, orthopedic pioneer and healthcare entrepreneur.

Richard Rothman

Richard Rothman, MD, PhD


Richard H. Rothman, MD, PhD

You took off your scrubs for the last time in May at 81 years old after performing 40,000 joint replacements. Was it an emotional time?

It was a typical Wednesday for me. I performed 5 knee replacements, walked out of the OR and haven't thought much about it since. I'll continue with office practice and will help run the Rothman Institute, which is a half-a-billion-dollar practice. I'm also starting a few new business ventures in China. I'll keep busy.

What did founding the Rothman Institute teach you about leadership?

I began in 1970 with a partner, a nurse, a secretary and a lab assistant. Now we have a thousand employees and 200 surgeons. People always wonder what the secret sauce is to building a successful organization. You have to identify the highest level of talent and treat that talent fairly. Every surgeon who becomes a partner in our organization gets the same contract I have, and there are no financial secrets in terms of productivity and profitability. That transparency lets us keep our talent forever. We joke that working at Rothman is a life sentence.

What do you think of the movement of more complex cases to outpatient ORs?

I've seen the entire spectrum of care. When I performed the first total hips in Philadelphia in the 1970s, we'd admit patients 2 days before surgery and keep them 3 weeks post-op. Patients were hospitalized for nearly a month, so we became very good friends. Now outpatient orthopedics is the future of surgery because it's cost effective and it's generally good for patients to recover at home.

What other trends do you see in the evolution of health care?

We're entering a time when things are going to change radically in terms of quality care delivered at lower cost and with a focus on patient-centeredness. One of our driving principles is delivering health care without requiring patients to come to an ivory tower in the city. We have more than 30 satellite locations in suburban population centers because convenience is a very strong driver of excellent patient care.

Where are significant cost-saving opportunities within bundled payments that cover entire episodes of care?

Physical therapy is a prime example. Of a typical $30,000 bundle for a total hip replacement, $6,000 goes to covering the cost of rehabbing. We helped develop a company that provides physician therapy over the Internet, which reduces that expense to $50. That kind of disruptive innovation reimagines health care and delivers value, which is essential to moving forward. OSM

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

Robotic Knee Replacements Ramping Up

Now's the time to invest in optimizing implant placement and attracting new patients to your ORs.

Infection-Free Joint Replacements

7 ways to prevent SSIs from developing in incisions and implants.

The Inside Scoop on Same-Day Hip Success

Plenty of planning and a pushy patient helped me make the move to outpatient ORs.