Where to invest in your spine business: 3Qs with Dr. Nitin Khanna

Practice Management

Nitin Khanna, MD, is a fellowship-trained spine surgeon with Spine Care Specialists in Munster, Ind.

Dr. Khanna is a featured speaker at the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + The Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference, June 13-15 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register. For more information about exhibitor and sponsor opportunities, contact Maura Jodoin at mjodoin@beckershealthcare.com.

Dr. Khanna focuses his practice on minimally invasive spine surgery and advanced fusion techniques as well as motion preservation in spine surgery. Here, Dr. Khanna examines the biggest opportunities for practice growth and where he sees technology changing in the future.

Question: How do you plan on growing your practice over the next 2-3 years? What are the best opportunities in your market?

Dr. Nitin Khanna: Growth is a combination of word of mouth and marketing. As an independent practitioner it is important to "invest in your business." Marketing is a key driver and ensuring an efficient and effective approach are keys to success. The best opportunities in our market and every market are to focus on the patient in the room. Convenience is king and making sure that each and every patient is seen and treated in a timely manner is just the beginning. Delivering great care and engaging the patient with relevant information regarding their conditions will always be the future.

Q: In what ways are you seeing technology and implants change? What are the smartest developments on the horizon?

NK: The shift to advanced materials and expandables is clear. The challenge is always cost. It remains clinically unclear that there is any significant clinical advantage of the newer materials over garden variety PEEK. It is encouraging [the] industry is still willing to make the investment in these materials as we have made a lot of advancement in spine surgery from the first-generation fixation of wires and hooks to current pedicle screw designs. Navigation is here to stay. The smartest technology will be in navigation that facilitates, not impedes, workflow and also artificial intelligence with predictive analytics for spine surgical outcomes.

I still firmly believe the EMR is a huge obstacle to progress for spine surgeons and [certain EMR systems] were never built for the patient or doctor. Their monopolistic position makes challengers weary but, as with all technology, their day will hopefully come soon. The "new EMR" hopefully will take a page from Instagram and incorporate a visual and concise data presentation to revolutionize the user interface. Also, I think patients should have the ability to see and participate in their health record.

Q: What role do you see outpatient surgery centers playing in the orthopedics and spine field in the future?

NK: We are seeing many advanced healthcare systems embrace ASCs as a lower cost higher quality alternative site of service for many degenerative spinal conditions. However, with consolidation and monopolistic health systems in certain markets, getting an ASC off the ground can be a challenge.

It behooves the insurance companies and implant companies to be on the forefront of growing this alternative site of service as all the metrics and patient satisfaction scores are favorable. It also allows physicians to once again be part of the process and control clinical care. I firmly believe this shift away from physician autonomy is directly related to low surgeon career satisfaction and high burnout rates.

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