Pain medication can help back pain patients on the road to recovery, but spine surgeons and specialists across the country are now faced with several challenges to ensure patients adhere to their regimen without abusing their prescription or diverting the pills somewhere else.
Ty Thaiyananthan, MD, founder of BASIC Spine in Newport Beach, Calif., discusses key metrics for spine surgeons today and where the industry is headed in the future.
Ty Thaiyananthan, MD, founder of BASIC Spine in Newport Beach, Calif., and Bryan Oh, MD, a neurosurgeon with a special interest in spine surgery at BASIC Spine, are joined by practice manager Casey Crawford to discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities for independent spine groups in the evolving healthcare market.
Patient satisfaction is important for any physician group, and more spine groups are beginning to tailor their practices around that patient experience.
1. Take lead of the team. Spine surgeons should take a leadership role to ensure everyone on the surgical and patient care team is contributing cohesively. "The surgeon has to function as the team leader," says Dr. Oh. "They have to improve team morale and acknowledge team members who do their job well."
Part of that leadership is organizing communication and delegating responsibilities. Surgeons may not be able to communicate with every team member individually, but they can communicate with the charge nurse, who would then be responsible for delivering the message.
2. Understand everyone else's role. Part of leading the operating room team is understanding the value everyone else brings to the process. "The surgeon has to familiarize himself with everything in the process, not just the surgery part," says Dr. Oh. "He has to know what goes on in the pre-op, what surgical techs are doing and the PACU process to anticipate problems and communicate solutions effectively."
There should be a formalized meeting with the operating room team before surgery so everyone understands their role and will be able to communicate effectively if an issue arises. "The nurse who checks the patient before surgery should know potential issues, so the surgeon and anesthesiologist should communicate that well," he says.
3. Make sure everyone takes ownership for the patient. The patient isn't just the surgeon's responsibility; everyone on the team contributes to patient care. "When operating room personnel feel they take ownership of the patient, that improves outcomes," says Dr. Oh. "Surgeons have to encourage that and the people on the OR team should buy into that concept. When they understand that person on the table is their patient too, things go a lot better."
4. Follow surgery protocol. There should be protocol in place for every surgical procedure so everyone from the admitting nurse to the recovery staff knows the plan for patient care. "Generally, this is something the surgeon takes the lead in developing, but they can gain input from everyone," says Dr. Oh. "Patients have better experience and outcomes when the process is formalized. This leads to higher patient satisfaction scores because it doesn't look like we are trying to reinvent the wheel with every patient."
5. Build positive team culture. The OR team should have a positive attitude and a good working relationship to provide patients with the best care. Everyone must work together to admit the patient, make sure the surgery is performed safely and help them through the recovery process.
"First and foremost, everyone has to realize they are part of the process," says Dr. Oh. "They are on the patient's treatment team, so they are involved in achieving the best outcome possible."
Doctor Bryan Oh is board certified in Neurological Surgery and received his medical training at Stanford University with a residency in neurosurgery and fellowship in spine surgery at the University of Southern California. Dr. Oh was a faculty member at the University of Texas at Houston Medical School and was Director of Neurotrauma for the busiest Level One Trauma Center in the United States.
He is a reviewer for the journals Neurosurgery and World Neurosurgery as well as a member of several prestigious societies, including the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
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