5 key strategies to bolster spine profitability in the outpatient landscape


Because spine procedures are some of the most profitable procedures performed in ASCs, they can help boost a a struggling center's bottom line.

During a panel at Becker's 14th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine in Chicago June 9, Daniel Mulconrey, MD, orthopedic spine surgeon with Midwest Orthopaedic Center in Peoria, Ill.; Christine Henry Musa, vice president of development and analytics and chief compliance officer at Regent Surgical Health in Westchester, Ill.; and Jeffrey Smith, CEO and director of Marietta, Ga.-based Amendia, a provider of minimally invasive spinal surgical instruments and implants, discussed a variety of topics, including how to improve the profitability of spine programs.


The panel was moderated by Barton Walker, JD, partner at McGuireWoods.


During the discussion, panelists shared ideas on how physicians and ASCs can make their spine programs more profitable. The highlights are listed below.


1. Market to patients and physicians. Dr. Mulconrey has found using social media as a network tool to reach out to more patients is helpful in terms of profitability. That's in addition to standard radio, television and billboard advertising.

For Ms. Musa, as part of a management company, physician marketing is crucial. Her company sends an employee into an area to understand the providers there. "For us, it's really about having a dedicated person who knows the market, who knows who is available and is able to really bring them a good value proposition," she says. She added that her company also pursues direct-to-patient marketing.

Amendia offers surgeon training labs that are aimed at providing a complete experience with company products, instrumentation and techniques. "We're willing and able to take our field of engineers and drop into a community to share. Word of mouth is key on how to do more procedures in outpatient," Mr. Smith says.


2. Provide the patient with as many options for care as possible. Dr. Mulconrey noted that additional musculoskeletal care, such as homeopathy, can add to a facility's revenue, and that providing all aspects of care is a good recruiting tool for new physicians. Ms. Musa agreed. "It is not just about surgery. It is not just about rehab or imaging. It is about creating an environment outpatient home for the patient where they can get all the care they require," she says.


3. Provide centralized care. Dr. Mulconrey also believes it is more advantageous for the patient when a facility provides centralized care. "All of the care is located in one center, and communication is better," he says. "I think that efficiency in care is what patients are looking for. Also, it helps with advertising and marketing. I think all those things add to improvement in your own spine service line, and I think that attracts patients instead of balancing between offices."


4. Know your cost before you start a procedure. Ms. Musa says ASCs should know the cost of a procedure before they start offering it, rather than trying to introduce a procedure or service line and figuring out what the profitability is going to be afterward. "By understanding the physicians' preferences, what they will use, what implants, you are able to understand the overall cost of the procedure and you will be able to then know what your reimbursement will be with payers," she says. "By talking with them in advance, you'll have a better understanding about what your profitability will be."


5. Implement a supply chain management program. A supply chain management program can go a long way in helping with cost containment. Regent Surgical Health's supply chain program, for instance, provides a platform that gives predictability for every single item that the company uses in its surgery center. So if there is a discrepancy, Regent Surgical Health is able to identify that and also use it in negotiations with vendors. "Without that transparency, it is hard to have those conversations and manage your costs," Ms. Musa says.


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