Spine and orthopedic experts in November spoke with Becker's about topics from shifting away from hospital employment to diversity in the field.
"The biggest investment we can make is in our staff. The patient experience doesn't solely depend on the physician. The patient experience starts with that phone call that they first make to schedule an appointment, the way they are greeted when they check in, whether or not they are escorted to the exam room and also at the end of the visit, how quickly their questions are answered. The investment we make in our staff comes in many forms. Of course, making sure that our staff feel fairly compensated for their efforts is an essential part of the equation. As important is making sure they truly feel they are part of the team. An engaged staff performs better. In lean methodology, involving every staff member in process improvement work that pertains to their role leads to the development of better processes that they are truly invested in. This sense of purpose and sense that everyone is essential to taking care of the patient is a key component of the culture that we have to build." — Vijay Yanamadala, MD, of Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare, on the most important investment for spine practices.
"The most valuable lesson I have learned from younger spine surgeons is the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. During my residency, we were accustomed to being on call every other night and then every night as a fellow. These experiences influenced my approach in private practice, where I have maintained a similar workload. Although I found it fulfilling — and still do — I've more recently recognized the value in taking more time off for myself and not stressing about having every OR slot filled. While I remain busy, I've discovered a more sustainable balance that allows me to succeed in my spine practice and enjoy life outside of work." — Philip Schneider, MD, of The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Bethesda, Md., on lessons from younger spine surgeons.
"The first step is to learn. Ask what we don't know and learn. If you are curious about the topic, there are tons of resources about how to approach LGBTQ patients and transgender patients. Just because I'm a gay man doesn't mean I understand the LGBTQ alphabet soup or what pronouns are proper or not proper with a certain person. These are all things that I had to learn by educating myself. Try to get to know and interact with some of your LGBTQ colleagues, residents or patients. Sometimes having a small symbol of allyship; a small rainbow sticker or some kind of LGBTQ lanyard or any kind of symbolism in your office or on you that says, "I am a safe space. I can be trusted, don't worry I've got your back." — Qusai Hammouri, MD, of NYU Langone Health in New York City, on how spine and orthopedic practices be more inclusive to LGBTQ+ physicians.
"Despite significant efforts and extra time devoted to creating a spine program in the hospital employed set up, I found that there were still significant barriers to having a successful spine practice due to the disconnect between administration and those of us tasked with building a new spine program within a large healthcare system and also being productive spine surgeons throughout the process. Spine surgery is different from both general orthopedic surgery as well as general neurosurgery. The large healthcare systems are able to engulf practices with those broader scopes and apply basic templates that are easily adhered to within their established system with relative success, but there's more nuance involved in elective spinal surgery that those general orthopedic and neurosurgical clinic templates will set the spine surgeon up for failure. I think most surgeons would agree that there are so many inefficiencies within a large system that waste time and don't contribute to positive patient care or improve their work-life balance. I believe that, in time, our practice model can represent an option for spine surgeons to maintain their autonomy and be very successful when other surgical subspecialties are being forced into hospital-employed positions to remain viable." — Peter McCunniff, MD, of the Pain Center of Arizona in Peoria, on his transition to private practice.
"Healthcare is about to enter a supercycle of innovation. It's going to be built on technologies, some new [and] some older but related to an artificial intelligence-based paradigm. I think we're going to see more precise, personal and targeted care. I think it's going to transform orthopedic surgery, spine surgery [and] healthcare delivery overall. I think that's where we're headed and that's where we've been trending for a few years, but I think over the next 12 to 18 months we're going to see more and more innovation. I think it's going to be spearheaded by physicians, along with people in the technology industry. There's going to be vast advancements in medtech, but we're also going to see quite a bit of advancement in healthcare delivery." — Ronjon Paul, MD, of Duly Health and Care in Downers Grove, Ill. on the trajectory of healthcare innovation.