SpineCal Institute's Dr. Pablo Pazmino on patient education & proving surgical procedures' efficacy


Pablo Pazmino, MD, highlights the importance of bringing patients into the fold so they can make educated decisions as well as challenges that lay ahead for spine surgeons.

Question:  What spurred you to form Spine Cal Institute? How does your practice differentiate itself from other leading spine practices in the area?


Dr. Pablo Pazamino: Since its inception, the SpineCal Institute was formed in order to incorporate some of the key concepts and theories I learned in my past career as a teacher and apply them to medicine. In this day and age of the internet patients arrive at the office overwhelmed, confused and frustrated with the vast online resources available through a standard search engine. Often this provides them with a baseline vocabulary but they are then unable to integrate and incorporate disjointed concepts and apply it directly to their pathology at hand.  I feel it is then on us as their physicians to help guide and direct the narrative and ensure they leave the office more informed so they can make an educated decision. With this in mind we use only original patient education materials to embed key concepts.


In my clinic, we focus on educating the patient from the moment they walk in the door. In the waiting room they have access to over 40 handwritten multilingual brochures with topics ranging from spinal pathologies and the procedures themselves. Next, we teach our patients in person how to understand their MRIs using anatomic models and large screen HD televisions. Once we have reviewed their imaging, we transition the conversation to a Powerpoint presentation specific to their pathology which first explains the conservative options specific to their condition. The surgery, outcomes and risks are described with simple step by step 3D animated videos and images which I feel allow the patients to make an educated decision.


Q: What opportunities does the future hold for spine surgeons? What challenges lay ahead?


PP: Spine surgery is one of the few fields of medicine where there is unqualified growth and opportunities. What makes the field of spine unique is that there are often several approaches to treat any given pathology. While the future of spine surgery is currently centered on stem cells, arthroplasty and minimally invasive measures, the prime challenge faced by current spinal surgeons is proving what we know works. We are constantly inundated by negative reports in the media or the medical literature regarding overtreatment, ongoing relationships with spine industry, the costs and inadequacies of our current surgeries. The bottom line is that we know our surgical procedures work but now we have to accept the challenge at hand and find a way to prove to the world what we see in the office. We need to go on the offensive and create our own validated outcomes measures, and prove the efficacy of our surgical procedures to the general public.


Learn more from Dr. Pazmino at the 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine in June 2017! Click here for more information.


More spine news:
Making patients part of the solution: Dr. James Fricton provides insights on the transformative care model in pain management
US Surgeon General asks providers to step up in midst of opioid crisis
What's in store for the neurosurgical field? Q&A with Dr. Milind Deogaonkar

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