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Dr. Bryan Oh on spine surgeryTracking key benchmarks is important for spine surgeons to ensure their practice is headed in the right direction in the changing healthcare environment.
Published in Spine
Dr. Bryan OhBryan Oh, MD, a neurosurgeon with a special interest in spine surgery at BASIC Spine in Orange, Calif., discusses the important elements of a successful spine practice business models in the future.
Published in Spine
Dr. Bryan Oh on spine surgeon leadershipBryan Oh, MD, a spine surgeon at BASIC Spine in Orange, Calif., discusses five steps for surgeons to run an efficient operating room team that achieves better outcomes.

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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Dr. Bryan Oh on spine surgeryBryan Oh, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon with BASIC Spine in Orange, Calif., discusses six key factors for building positive employee culture at spine practices.
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Dr. Bryan Oh on online marketingBryan Oh, MD, a neurosurgeon who focuses on spine surgery with BASIC Spine in Orange, Calif., discusses the most cost-effective methods to optimize online practice marketing.

Q: What is the best marketing tactic for driving patient volume to your spine practice?


Dr. Bryan Oh: I think clearly the internet is going to be front and center in terms of driving patients into the practice. You can still go out and shake the hands of primary care physicians, but I think the Internet is the new frontier in terms of marketing practices and bringing patients in. We work with a practice management group to help us be more successful. I’ve gone from a practice of zero to a full clinic in almost nine months and I attribute this to Internet marketing.

If you are out there with targeted ads and other internet marketing, whoever is doing your marketing campaign should be able to give you concrete data about how many hits your website gets and what your conversion rates are. They can also tell you the patient demographics who are clicking through. If you are spending those marketing dollars, you need to make sure it’s translating into a good return for you.

Q: How can you focus your efforts with online marketing to optimize your return on investment?


BO:
There are a lot of people who do Internet marketing, but you have to understand how to do it well. The marketing person must know search engine optimization and use it well. You must also understand what is said about you on the Internet — there might be patients writing negative things about you, but it also may be other doctors and competitors trying to sabotage your Internet presence. That can be a difficult situation; sometimes your IT person can see where the negative comments are coming from and figure out whether there is anything you can do about them.

It’s also very important to have a professional-looking website that is up-to-date, user friendly and talks about your practice and what you have to offer. You have to differentiate your practice from other physicians. Have patient testimonials on your website and new technology you use. People have been very impressed with my website and they felt because it looked like it was technologically advanced it reflected how I think about my practice. It’s much more important than some surgeons think. I’ve had multiple patients tell me how much they liked our website.

Q: What elements are essential for an attractive website?


BO: Patients like websites where they feel like they can get their questions answered efficiently. They like websites where they can make appointments, message the office staff and purchase retail medications. These are all things patients want and like. Taking it further, it’s not necessarily just web-based applications patients are looking for as things are moving more into the realm of smart phones, iPads and other tablet devices. The next step would not be a web-savvy practice but an app-savvy practice. My marketing group is helping us make that transition now.

Q: Do you use social media? Is it effective?


BO: We have someone in our practice who blogs for us. It’s very important, but I don’t think I’ve gotten too many patients off of Facebook or Twitter. Patients we already have follow us as well as the patients who saw us at our previous practice,  but we don’t get many new patients from social media. However, they help with the branding of our practice. I can’t think of a reputable brand out there right now that doesn’t have a presence on Facebook.

Facebook is a little bit tricky because you have a presence out there, but people can also post negative things about your practice and you don’t know where it’s coming from. You have to watch for that and manage your reputation online.

Q: How much time and resources does it take to maintain social media pages and blogs?


BO: Most blogs are general informational posts, so it could be spine-related or something in general health. If your posts have certain key words directed to your practice, it could drive interested patients to your website. You might post on an unrelated topic and people are interested in that, but they might also have a back issue or know someone who has a back issue. In general we want to brand our practice as the place where people come to get healthy. We post about people who are active and healthy and it adds to the favorability of our practice.

Q: Beyond the internet, what are the most cost-efficient marketing tactics?


BO:
The website is certainly important, but you can also do interviews with local newspapers and publications that also have websites. If you are marketing with them or doing interviews with them and they post it on their electronic versions, they can link back to your website and give you increased search engine exposure.

Dr. 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. Follow Dr. Oh on Google+.

More Articles on Spine Surgery:

5 Tips for Spine Surgeons to Prepare for New Payment Models

10 Key Factors for Spine Surgeons to Examine Before Signing Hospital Contracts

Biggest Coverage Issues for Spine Surgeons in 2013: Q&A With Dr. William Taylor of UC San Diego

Published in Spine
Dr. Bryan Oh on young spine surgeonBryan Oh, MD, a spine surgeon with BASIC Spine in Orange, Calif., discusses leadership among young spine surgeons and how they can propel themselves to success in the future.
Published in Spine