What is PRP?
PRP is an innovative and promising approach to treating many orthopaedic conditions. By drawing a patient’s blood, spinning it down, and re-injecting the concentrated platelets into the damaged area, a provider can harness and amplify the body’s natural healing ability.
Why PRP is Gaining Popularity
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is treatment patients are asking about with increasing frequency. Its popularity may be attributed to famous athletes like Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, and Cristiano Ronaldo who have received PRP injections and reported a faster, more complete recovery from their injuries.
The incorporation of PRP in orthopedic practices is accelerating. This is largely because:
Broader research has increased the understanding of how PRP works and what is needed to optimize the benefits.
Clinical studies have shown improved pain and improved function in patients receiving PRP treatment when compared to the current standard of care.
Orthopaedic societies now recognize the positive effect of PRP in various tendinopathies and osteoarthritis.
Offering PRP provides an additional revenue source for clinics facing mounting reimbursement constraints.
The barrier to entry is low.
The Decision to Add PRP to My Practice
Personally, I decided to incorporate PRP therapy into my own clinic five years ago and it was one of the best decisions I have made. First and foremost, the clinical outcomes following PRP treatment have been very positive. My patients are leading more active lives and enjoying a better quality of life. In addition, the increase in revenue has helped compensate for the barrage of reimbursement cuts over the past several years.
The Problem and Solution
Before I made the decision to implement PRP therapy, I was very hesitant. I simply did not feel that the evidence in the PRP literature was sufficient to support its popularity.
I conducted an extensive review of the PRP research and attended conferences where the leading experts in regenerative medicine provided the most recent breakthroughs regarding PRP. My optimism increased as I began to understand the reason why some studies were negative and why others were positive—not all PRP is created equal!
The key is in the formulation. Once I understood what it was in PRP that makes it effective, I looked for a PRP system that provided the ideal formula. Then I had the confidence to offer my patients this treatment knowing that PRP could truly help them.
The Ideal PRP Formulation
A dose of platelets large enough to create a healing response
Dr. Ryan Riggs chose the Harvest PRP system to begin building his practice
What to Gain from the Literature?
Recent advancements in our scientific understanding outline which components in whole blood augment PRP’s healing potential and which ones inhibit it.
The components of an ideal PRP formulation are now better understood.
Looking over the literature, experts can see why some studies showed that PRP was ineffective—the PRP used was far from ideal.
Recent publications in which a more ideal PRP formulation was used achieved positive results.
Because this optimal formulation has not been standardized, systemic reviews of the literature cannot exclude the suboptimal formulations without being judged of bias; therefore, many reviews have inconclusive results.
Concerning PRP’s Profitability
Another reason to consider incorporating PRP into your practice is profitability. Currently, the average price of a PRP treatment in the U.S. is $700 (ranging from $450-$1200).
The profit margin for this procedure is very high compared to most insurance reimbursements. There is no need to purchase expensive medication—the key components that make PRP effective are in the patient’s blood. Processing supplies are usually sold as a kit from a PRP company and cost around $250 ($150 to $400 range). This allows for a simple procedure to bring in $500 per treatment area.
Incorporating PRP into an orthopedic practice is quite easy. Most clinics are already equipped with injection supplies and have providers adept at injection procedures.
After that, all that is needed is:
Someone to draw the blood (I did the blood draws at first, now my medical assistant does)
Someone to prepare the PRP (a sales representative is usually a good resource for training)
A centrifuge and a few kits
It may be time to incorporate PRP into your clinic's treatment options. PRP has been proven to be effective for many orthopaedic conditions. It can be easily incorporated into any practice with very little extra training or additional resources. Furthermore, it adds a steady revenue stream in a time when reimbursement cuts are rampant. And above all, patient satisfaction increases as a result of more treatment options and better outcomes.
If would like to receive additional information on how to incorporate PRP into your practice, contact the author at DrRiggs@TheActiveJointInstitute.com.