April 2000 Bulletin

MODEMS program terminated

Five years after the Academy Board of Directors approved a plan to "develop standardized assessment criteria and measurement instruments related to the musculoskeletal system," the resulting program–MODEMS–has been terminated.

MODEMS, an acronym for the Musculoskeletal Outcomes Data Evaluation and Management System, was expected to be the premier program for the collection and analysis of functional outcomes information on musculoskeletal conditions. "Though the MODEMS program achieved some undeniable successes like the development of validated instruments and collection of over 30,000 records, ultimately, it never garnered the critical mass of subscribers necessary to become economically viable and financially successful," said Barry P. Simmons, MD, president of the Musculoskeletal Education and Research Institute.

When MODEMS was terminated on March 1, there were 286 physicians in the program. MODEMS’ early goal was 1,000 subscribers and 50,000 records by December 1999.

MODEMS struggled from the beginning to overcome physicians’ reluctance to participate. There were initial concerns by orthopaedists that the investment in software and hardware was too expensive and the selection of vendors too difficult or time-consuming. MODEMS initiated a number of efforts to overcome the obstacles faced by orthopaedists, ranging from low-cost software to aggressive marketing.

MODEMS hoped to encourage all musculoskeletal care providers to submit outcomes data using the MODEMS standardized data collection instruments. To overcome the concern of other organizations that MODEMS was an Academy program, a new governing organization, the Musculoskeletal Education and Research Institute, was formed to make MODEMS independent of the Academy. In December 1997, the Academy Board of Directors provided $500,000 a year for two years to finance the operation, at which time, the Institute was expected to be financially self-sufficient.

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