Staying way ahead of the curve

April 8, 2014

(Part 1 of 4) In a recent conversation about the importance of medical research, Dr. Gregory Berlet explained how OFAC’s research program has impacted the practice: “By the time a procedure becomes routine, we’ve already been doing it for a decade.” OFAC participates in concert with OhioHealth’s Research Institute in numerous active studies, pulling from the team’s multidisciplinary background to help us tackle problems from different directions. Even though the physicians are all focused on foot and ankle, a variety of backgrounds means we can step back and look at the larger scope. We try to avoid ‘group think’ and instead challenge every assumption about both the process of care and the techniques we use to help our patients. Patients want their healthcare from the people who write the books, he says, not just those who read them. That means we have to constantly think outside the box and anticipate where we want to be in five to ten years, and identify the advances we hope to offer patients. Being multidisciplinary means we can see how one research study impacts advances outside our own subspecialty; a new ankle implant could inspire tools for the hip, or stem cell research on complicated foot wounds could benefit other surgical cases. So how do we get started? There are two types of research we conduct: industry-sponsored studies and investigator initiated studies.  When an outside company is investigating the safety and or/effectiveness of a drug or device, and they ask for our expertise to facilitate the study, that’s considered industry-sponsored.  When our physicians identify a challenge and fund the research internally, it’s considered an investigator-initiated study. And with the largest consolidated foot and ankle practice in the country, we see a broad spectrum of unique challenges. “The goal is always that ideal trifecta of ‘better, faster, stronger’: better patient outcomes, faster recovery, and stronger physical features.” In a similar fashion, our research falls into three categories: biologic, devices, and influential. Future posts in this research series will discuss examples of each, so check back for updates.

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