Peer-to-Peer Collaboration Adds Value for Surgical Colleagues

Ameer M. Elbuluk, Michael P. Ast, Jeffrey D. Stimac, Trevor R. Banka, Matthew P. Abdel, Jonathan M. Vigdorchik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Peer-to-peer advisory among colleagues in orthopedic surgery is commonplace in academic medical centers. In the private practice setting, however, it becomes more difficult for surgeons to discuss complex cases among peers. Purpose/Questions: We sought to study the effect of peer-to-peer mentorship on surgeons’ decision-making and on patient care across academic and private adult joint reconstruction practices via the use of group secured messages. Methods: From 2013 to 2016, we established a messaging system that was compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) among five previous adult hip and knee reconstruction co-fellows in order to discuss complex cases. Data collected from each case included patient demographics (age and sex), history and physical examination, relevant imaging in orthogonal planes, and preliminary diagnosis and treatment plans. Data collected from group responses included nature of additional inquiries, literature citations, operative recommendations, and sample imaging of similar cases previously treated. Results: The group consisted of two private practice surgeons and three academic surgeons. Data was collected on 283 cases discussed during the study period. None of the patients had any HIPAA violations. The mean number of reviewers who commented on a case was 2.4, with at least one response in 97% of cases. In 33% of the cases, the peers confirmed the initial treatment plan, and in 67% of the cases, an alternative treatment plan was recommended and executed. The case distribution was 94 primary and 189 revision procedures, including 173 hips, 103 knees, three ankles, two shoulders, and two pelvises. Conclusion: In the majority of cases exchanged between young surgeons via a group messaging system, a significant impact on patient care was appreciated. In a technology-driven era, peer-to-peer advisory for difficult cases via a rapid feedback method may allow for substantial improvement in patient care, particularly for surgeons not practicing at a large academic medical center with access to several partners and multiple opinions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-298
Number of pages5
JournalHSS Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • clinical outreach
  • communication
  • mobile health
  • personal data
  • secure messaging
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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