October 2002 Bulletin

OREF–Planning for the future

By Gene Wurth, OREF President/CEO

At its June 21, 2002 meeting, the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) Board of Trustees approved a strategic plan that had been developed over the last year. The process involved Board members, OREF staff and other key orthopaedic leaders. Five major themes were identified that will direct OREF efforts in the future. They are: Communications, Impact, Credibility, Partnerships within Orthopaedics, and Partnerships with the Public. Those five themes can be summarized in a single sentence as:

OREF will develop a comprehensive plan to communicate the impact of its research and education programs, and its credibility as an organization highly qualified to do that work, in order to build partnerships within orthopaedics and with the general public.

Communicate research impact

Early in the process, the OREF Board and staff concluded that OREF-funded research has had a major impact on orthopaedics in improving the way orthopaedists practice and in improving quality of life for their patients. They also concluded that OREF could do a better job of sharing that information with surgeons and with the public.

One indication that surgeons may not be aware of the impact of OREF research is that less than 15 percent of all orthopaedic surgeons support OREF financially, although OREF research may have helped them in their careers either directly or indirectly. OREF will develop a comprehensive plan to document the impact of this work and share that information with orthopaedists and the public.

Proven credibility

OREF is a very careful manager of its resources, historically allocating about 85 percent of all dollars raised for research and education programs, and only about 15 percent for overhead. Also, in recent years, OREF has managed its investments prudently, preserving substantial assets that could have been lost in the market downturn. In the mid-1990s, OREF averaged between 18-20 percent annual return on its investments, a good result. Perhaps a better indicator of sound financial management is what happened later. During 2000 and 2001, when market indices declined about 12 percent or more each year, OREF had investment losses of only about 3.7 percent in 2000, and less than 1 percent in 2001.

OREF has proven its credibility as an organization well qualified to manage these donations for the good of orthopaedics, and the Board wants to communicate that information as well.

Communication and partnerships

Once OREF documents the impact of its work, and its credibility as the best organization to do this work, it will communicate that information in a way that creates more and better partnerships with individual orthopaedic surgeons, with orthopaedic organizations (including the AAOS and the many specialty societies) and with orthopaedic industry. Each of these is important to us in its own way. For example, each year the orthopaedic industry provides about 50 percent of all annual fund donations to OREF. We also will work to create partnerships with the public by pointing out the many ways that orthopaedics improves the quality of life for millions. Once that communication takes place, we hope to generate more support from within orthopaedics, and to convince the public it should support orthopaedic research as well.

OREF has had a successful 50-year history. This plan should ensure that its future will be even brighter, with more funding available for important research and education that benefits us all. That is a promising development for all of orthopaedics.

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