Dr. Jeffrey Wang hopes bundled payments will bypass 'initial pushback' to improve spine care

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Jeffrey Wang, MD, is co-director of the USC Spine Center at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles who completed his term as president of the North American Spine Society in September.

Dr. Wang spoke to Becker's Spine Review about the future of value-based care in spine and goals for his practice in 2020.

Note: Responses are lightly edited for style and clarity

Question: How do you expect value-based care to develop in spine?

Dr. Jeffrey Wang: It is already developed and is making surgeons think more globally about treating patients, and all the steps involved in the care of the patient. In the end, I am hopeful this will enhance the patient experience as it looks at the global situation, trying to make things more efficient and cost-effective for all.

Q: What impact do you see bundled payment programs having on the field in the next five years?

JW: Hopefully, it will eventually result in more efficient and effective care with less complications and better patient satisfaction. It forces the interaction of the clinicians with the hospital system and scrutinizes all aspects of care. I know it will be fraught with frustrations, initial struggles and some pushback. However, as clinicians work with hospitals and make improvements in the entire system, there will hopefully be benefits in efficiencies.

Q: What strategies can spine surgeons employ to deal with declining reimbursements?

JW: It is becoming increasingly difficult for all clinical practitioners as reimbursements are declining, with the costs of care rising. What is more frustrating is that more of the money and cost of care is going toward administrative costs, while the clinician reimbursements decrease. I think that clinicians need to organize, and through advocacy, try to make real changes with the policymakers and payers. The end-goal is often the same: improved patient care with better efficiencies. However, there is considerable debate on how to best achieve those goals.

Q: What goals do you have for your practice in 2020?

JW: Our goals are to improve quality for everyone. Certainly, our patients are first. We will continue to try to improve patient experience, obtain better patient satisfaction and measure this to ensure we are moving in the right direction. At the same time, we want to improve the quality for our surgeons, support staff, residents/fellows and all the folks who help run our spine center.

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