How a Houston-based spine surgeon plans to optimize direct-to-consumer marketing & other key growth areas

Practice Management

Neil Badlani, MD, is a minimally invasive spine surgeon in Houston, practicing at The Orthopedic Sports Clinic, an affiliate of Houston-based Nobilis Health.

Dr. Badlani 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

Here, he discusses how his practice will evolve over the next few years.

Question: How do you plan on growing your practice over the next two to three years? What are the best opportunities in your market?

Dr. Neil Badlani: We plan to grow our practice through continued direct-to-consumer marketing. Healthcare is becoming an increasingly consumer-driven industry. Patients have access to healthcare information everywhere, are more educated about their healthcare choices and they have higher expectations and want to be active as long as they possibly can. Healthcare dollars are also being shifted more toward our patients in the form of higher deductibles and co-insurance payments. This trend of consumerism in healthcare is not going away, and physicians should be equipped to handle it.

As physicians, it is our responsibility to educate our patients with accurate and comprehensive information about their conditions and treatment options. Direct-to-consumer marketing is an increasingly important way to provide that patient education and an opportunity for physicians to grow their practices for continued success.

The best opportunities in our market are to continue to become a comprehensive healthcare provider. Offering a full gamut of services including physical therapy, advanced imaging and surgical facilities allows us to control the patient experience from start to finish and provides significant ancillary revenue streams. Strategic hospital alliances can help our independent practice facilitate this growth and provide this complete array of healthcare services.

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

NB: I believe the most significant advancements in spine surgery in the next decade will be in the areas of navigation, robotics and biologics. Better systems for navigation and robotics are already changing the way we do spine surgery by increasing accuracy, precision and safety and decreasing our exposure to radiation.

The greatest potential for advancement comes in the area of biologics. Performing a successful minimally invasive spinal fusion requires the use of powerful biologics to stimulate bone growth through smaller windows. Regenerative biologics such as stem cells have the potential to revolutionize the field by preserving disc health and we are just starting the process of discovering the best technique and substance to make this a reality.

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

NB: Outpatient spine surgery has grown dramatically over the last decade because of significant clinical and economic advantages to patients, physicians and the healthcare industry. Improving technology, increased patient and physician satisfaction as well as a desire to control healthcare costs are key drivers of this growth. Patients prefer outpatient procedures because of the increased convenience and quality of care.

Physicians benefit from the efficiencies of the outpatient setting and potential profit from ownership. The healthcare market continues to evolve because of ambulatory surgery centers providing a disruptive innovation to the existing industry structure. Shifting site of surgery to the outpatient setting leads to an overall decentralization of healthcare and significant cost savings opportunities. The trend toward moving spine surgery to the outpatient setting will continue as patients and physicians become more comfortable with the process and evidence continues to show excellent outcomes, low complications and economic efficiencies.

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