When Regenexx began offering orthopedic stem cell treatments in 2005, there was nobody else in the U.S. performing these procedures. Today there are lots of different choices. You see the ads online and through other media outlets. I’ve even seen billboard messages by doctors marketing their stem cell services. With so many stem cell clinics popping up, seemingly overnight, how do you know which ones you can trust? If you’re like me, you need to know the physician is skilled in his or her field and you need to see results before you grant that trust.
We began constructing a network of Regenexx providers in 2011, and to date, we’ve been approached by about a thousand physicians wanting to join. Yet we’ve accepted less than 50 of those applications into our network. Why is that? Because we are highly selective about whom we trust, about who possesses the skills that will qualify that physician to join our Regenexx Network Physicians.
A Physician Using a Skill Set That is a Copy of a Copy Isn’t Right for Regenexx
Do you remember the old Xerox machines, where you’d copy an original document and then, later on, that copy would get copied, and then that copied copy would get copied, and so on? The quality of each copied copy would diminish to the point where they just no longer looked much like the original at all. The problem with teaching a medical technique that’s very dependent on physician skill is that if it’s not in the right physician’s hands, it can become like a copy of a copy of a copy.
At Regenexx, because we are so dependent on physician skill, we are very cognizant of this fact. We know how important it is to make sure we have the right doctors performing our procedures; otherwise, we’d never be able to replicate them around the country without those poor-quality copies popping up. This is a frequent occurrence in medical technology: once a new technology gets out there, the pioneers who created it and have a passion to see patients benefit from it do very well with it, but there are others who then learn it in that copy-of-a-copy kind of way, and it fails. This is why Regenexx only selects skilled physicians into its network who can learn from and stay true to the original—no copies of copies allowed here.
How to Avoid a Copy of a Copy in the Stem Cell Wild West
We are in an era that I like to call the Stem Cell Wild West. Some physicians are doing it right, but a large majority have no idea what they’re doing. We have patients being given baby-pee amniotic-fluid injections (amniotic fluid containing plenty of baby pee, but no live cells) and being told they’re getting a “stem cell injection.” We have physicians injecting toxic substances alongside live stem cells that will kill or hurt the cells. We have doctors performing blind injections into joints who can’t actually document they got precisely into the joint. We have physicians drawing stem cells from only one site and reducing that stem cell number when they should be drawing from multiple sites. We have surgeons sprinkling “stem cell magic pixie” dust into surgeries that we know don’t work.
So how do you avoid a copy of a copy? At Regenexx, we enforce strict standards on who can join our provider network. These include the following:
- Basic training in imaging-guided injections
- Extensive experience and training in treating musculoskeletal injuries
- Mandatory training and testing in core competencies
- Hands-on cadaver-based training to demonstrate skills
Ask stem cell providers how they were trained. What is their skill set? Where did they train on the specific technique? Research their answers. Did they learn from an original source, or are they copying something someone else copied? Make sure they are transparent with their results and outcomes, the good and the bad. Regenexx, for example, uses this live outcomes app to help you easily see results at any time, which are gathered via a stem cell registry.
The upshot? Regenexx Network is an elite group of handpicked doctors who I personally train. These providers have much better qualifications than the average doctor performing these procedures. This is why we’ve turned away hundreds of physicians. I often get asked, “Is there a Regenexx provider in my area?” Click this link to see our current provider map. If we don’t have a provider in your area, realize it’s because we haven’t found that right, highly qualified doctor for your area yet. However, we’re always working to fill holes in our network coverage.