The construction boom in orthopedics continues with a Woodbury-based group rolling out plans this week for a new center in Eagan.

The development from Summit Orthopedics responds to an aging population that’s demanding more orthopedic procedures — one of the factors that was cited last week when Bloomington-based Tria Orthopaedics announced plans for a new $48 million center in Woodbury.

But the new Eagan facility also will cater to patients who fly to the metro for care through nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, said Adam Berry, chief executive at Summit Orthopedics.

Summit is treating a growing number of out-of-state patients through contracts with employers and insurers that promise knee and hip replacement procedures at a significant discount to rates in other states, Berry said. Local patients will be in the mix, too, including those from growing communities in Dakota County.

“We have had just such a great reception from the payer community, as well as from employers, that we’re starting to reach capacity at our northern site,” Berry said, referring to a center in Vadnais Heights that Summit Orthopedics opened in February 2014. He added: “The growing population in the south metro is just so attractive.”

Orthopedics is a medical specialty that deals with bone and joint conditions. In announcing plans for the Eagan center, Summit Orthopedics also said it plans to merge in January with the Bloomington-based Institute for Low Back and Neck Care, forming a combined group with about 720 employees.

Summit Orthopedics did not put a price tag on plans for the new 65,000-square-foot development at the intersection of Interstate 494 and Pilot Knob Road in Eagan. But Berry said the center would be similar in size to the group’s Vadnais Heights facility, which he said cost about $15 million.

Groundbreaking for the Eagan center is expected this spring, with opening planned for early 2017. Summit Orthopedics already operates two other locations in Eagan that will be moved into the new center, Berry said.

Orthopedic groups are building centers so they can treat patients in more efficient, outpatient settings, Berry said, rather than at hospitals. With the right patient, outpatient care can save thousands of dollars per case, Berry said.

The new center in Eagan will have suites so patients following a procedure can spend the night at the surgery center. The suites also are important for treating out-of-state patients who fly in for care.

In Alaska, joint replacement procedures can cost $60,000 or $70,000 each, Berry said. In the Twin Cities, he said the going rate is more like $20,000 to $25,000 per procedure. Looking at such price differences across the country, employers increasingly are willing to cover travel costs, Berry said, if patients will go to the Twin Cities for care.

“The proximity to the airport makes this an attractive site,” he said of the Eagan site.

Across the Twin Cities metro, there’s increased competition among orthopedic groups.

Through its forthcoming merger with the Bloomington-based spine surgery group, Summit Orthopedics will expand from its Woodbury base into the west metro. Tria Orthopaedics, meanwhile, is expanding east from its base in Bloomington with its Woodbury center.

Also in the competitive mix is Twin Cities Orthopedics, a large group based in Golden Valley that merged earlier this year with St. Croix Orthopaedics, which treats many patients in Washington County. In December 2014, Twin Cities Orthopedics announced plans for a new sports medicine clinic in Eden Prairie, plus plans to move into larger clinic spaces in Maple Grove and Plymouth.

Rochester-based Mayo Clinic opened in 2014 a new sports medicine clinic in downtown Minneapolis.


Twitter: @chrissnowbeck