Here four spine surgeons discuss the one thing they wish they could change about healthcare.
Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses.
Next week's question: CMS recently finalized a bundled payments initiative for hip and knee replacements. Do you see a similar initiative for spine coming down the pipeline in the future?
Please send responses to Anuja Vaidya at firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, Dec. 30, at 5 p.m. CST.
Question: If you could change one thing about the current healthcare climate, what would it be and why?
William Taylor, MD, Director, Spine Surgery, Vice Chairman, Division of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Diego: Beginning with a focus on value rather than cost. This would require a shift in thinking from many stakeholders and would be beneficial to our patients.
Brian R. Gantwerker, MD, The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: I would recommend a serious look at the valuation of services provided. As it stands right now, doctors get paid less for say a microdiscectomy than a mechanic gets paid to replace a hose or a bumper on a car. Seriously? The schooling, the training, the follow-up, and not to mention the assumption of liability.
Richard Kube, MD, Founder, CEO, Prairie Spine & Pain Institute, Peoria, Ill.: There needs to be [more] accountability for insurance carriers. It has come to the point that they essentially do whatever they want. The amount of resources that a practice has to spend to collect money that is contractually due is unheard of in any other industry that I know. Without a change, many unprepared practices are going to be strangled out of business due to cash flow crunches. They should have to pay their bills or face real consequences like anyone else.
Neel Anand, MD, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Director, Spine Trauma, Cedars-Sinai Spine Center, Los Angeles: Win some respect back for doctors. That respect goes both ways — patients need to respect their doctors and vice versa. Healthcare has become a commodity.