June 1998 Bulletin

MODEMS moves into high gear

Launches new, major initiatives on marketing, education, customer support

Musculoskeletal Outcomes Data Evaluation and Management System (MODEMS™) is moving into high gear. The infrastructure has been completed, patient-based functional assessment questionnaires have been created, paper-based and electronic methods of transmitting the data have been developed and a national database for the outcomes data has been established.

Much has been accomplished since October 1994 when the Board of Directors approved a plan to "develop standardized assessment criteria and measurement instruments related to the musculoskeletal system." Last month, MODEMS' new governing organization, the Musculoskeletal Education and Research Institute (Institute), became operational.

MODEMS has 4,369 records in its database and 180 subscribed doctors, representing 46 clinics. The goal by December 1999 is 50,000 records and 1,000 subscribers (60 percent of whom would be orthopaedic surgeons).

The database is getting a big infusion of data. The National Spine Network has joined the MODEMS program and its physicians will continue to supply more information to the MODEMS program. Initially, the network of spine centers will add about 15,000 records. MODEMS also is discussing participation by other organizations.

Because some orthopaedists said the investment in computer equipment and software was too expensive and the selection process of a vendor too difficult or time-consuming, MODEMS is launching major initiatives involving new marketing materials; new public relations efforts to educate potential subscribers; proactive customer support; and discussions with IPAs, managed care organizations, government agencies and existing networks that collect data to adopt the MODEMS questionnaires.

To make it easier and less costly for orthopaedic surgeons to participate, MODEMS has introduced Passport™, an easy-to-use, low-cost software. It allows MODEMS subscribers to begin outcomes data collection quickly and at a small cost.

The vision of the MODEMS program is to be "the premier program for the collection and analysis of functional outcomes information on musculoskeletal conditions. MODEMS will support the collaboration of musculoskeletal care providers in the interests of improving patient care."

The challenge for the Institute will be to encourage all musculoskeletal care providers to submit outcomes data using standardized data collection elements and methods. A primary reason for the creation of the Institute was to demonstrate to other organizations that the national database would be independent of the Academy. In December 1997, the board formed the Institute and provided $500,000 a year for two years to finance the initial operation.

Previously, the program was guided by the Academy's Task Force on Data Management. Summing up its activity in a final report to the board in March, the task force said:

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