Commentary

Boldly Going (Where No Journal Has Gone Before)

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On a recent visit to my daughter’s school, I caught sight of a set of encyclopedias on the shelf. It brought me back to the days where I would open my own set to find out the information I needed to write reports for school. But my sense of nostalgia was short lived as I thought about all of the limitations of the format. If it wasn’t in the encyclopedias, I couldn’t write the report and would need to head to the library. The Internet changed all of that. Now, when I want to know something I don’t look it up in a book anymore. I ask Siri or Alexa or head to the Google home page. When one of my kids asks me a question I can’t answer, like how a tornado forms, I take out my phone and search for the answer on the Internet.

When it comes to medical information, I can’t remember the last time I opened up a journal sitting on my shelf and leafed through the contents to identify the article I needed. I simply go online and search PubMed or download the article from the AJO website. My office is no longer filled with volumes of journals, and I need only my phone to research whatever topic I’m interested in.

The way I prefer to prepare for cases has changed as well. In the past I would simply open a book or technique article and read about the best way to perform the case. Now, I prefer to watch a video or download the technique guide. I find it easier and faster than reading a book chapter or article.

When we began to change the format of the journal, we stated that AJO would be filled with practical information that would be directly impactful to your practice. That’s the number one criteria we utilize when evaluating content. We wanted to make AJO the journal you wanted to read, because it would improve your knowledge, your outcomes, and your bottom line. We have made many changes to AJO in the last 2 years of print issues. But to truly provide the experience our readers demand and deserve, we have to take a huge next step. Right now we are limited by page and word counts, printed media, and advertising pages. We receive hundreds of submissions a month, yet can only print a fraction of the great material we receive.

If you’ve been following the journal for the last 24 months, you’ve noticed that we have been testing the limits of printed media. We’ve included QR codes for videos, companion PDFs, patient information sheets, and downloadable reports to incorporate into your practice.

The way we access the journal is also changing. We’ve looked closely at our web statistics since the redesign. Our website visits have gone up by a factor of 6 with nearly half of our website traffic coming from mobile usage. It became clear that the days of the printed journal are slowly coming to an end. Surgeons don’t have time to read the journal cover to cover, and now most of our traffic comes from our eBlasts. Surgeons find an article that catches their eye and click a link to find out more. We’ve dramatically increased our eBlasts, and our website volume has been increasing exponentially.

While these small steps have been met with great success, it’s now time to make a giant leap. But unlike most journals, where the online version is just an electronic copy of the printed book, we wanted to make the new AJO something vastly different. We wanted to change the way surgeons utilized a journal and interacted with it on a daily basis. We wanted to be the electronic companion to your practice; a trusted, media rich, peer-reviewed source where you and your patients can turn to for the practical day-to-day information you can use to improve your practice.

We’ve built it, and now I’m proud to unveil it. Beginning January 1, AJO will be published exclusively online. All articles will still be PubMed cited, but will contain more photos, videos, handouts and all the information you need to replicate the findings or procedures in your practice. For example, new surgical techniques will be published with the presenting surgeon’s preference cards, rehab protocols, surgical video, and a PowerPoint presentation that can be presented to referral sources or prospective patients.

New features on our web portal will include:

An orthopedic product guide: A database organized by pathology which contains all of the relevant orthopedic products that could be used for treatment. Relevant products will be cross-referenced to articles so you can quickly identify and order equipment for new cases.

Smart article selection: You can filter the articles that match your interests and have them delivered directly to your inbox. For example, foot and ankle surgeons will no longer need to sift through hundreds of pages to find articles relevant to their practice.

A coding and billing section: Discuss and share tips and tricks with your peers and ask questions of the experts. Regular articles will present relevant codes and how to use them appropriately to get the reimbursement you deserve for your services.

Practice management and business strategies: Get advice from, and interact with, the experts in all areas of your practice.

Ask the experts: Present your cases to our editorial board and enjoy a written, peer-reviewed response. Discuss cases and mutual challenges in communities organized by subspecialty and sport. Cover a high school football team? Imagine a place where you can present your football-related injury to the world’s best football doctors and have them review and comment on the case.

These are just some of the changes you will see in the coming months. We will continuously work to improve and welcome your future suggestions as to how we can provide a truly valuable, customized journal.

Looking to the future, it is my opinion that patient-reported outcome scores will be a large part of what we do. By presenting our successful outcomes, we will ultimately justify the procedures which we perform and justify the reimbursement to third party payers. In this issue, we examine the concept of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), and how and why to apply them to your practice.



In our lead article, Elizabeth Matzkin and colleagues present a guideline for implementing PROMs in your practice. Patrick Smith and Corey Cook provide a review of available electronic databases, and Patrick Denard and colleagues present data obtained through an electronic PROM database to settle the question “Is knotless labral repair better than conventional anchors in the shoulder?” Alan Hirahara and colleagues present their 2-year data on superior capsular Reconstruction, and Roland Biedert and Philippe Tscholl discuss the management of patella alta.

By now you’ve realized you’re holding the last printed issue of AJO. Enjoy a moment of nostalgia for the old days, and then buckle your seatbelt. We’re taking AJO where no other journal has gone before and it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

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