Private practice in spine surgery: Key challenges & opportunities from Dr. Scott Blumenthal


Scott Blumenthal, MD, co-founder of the Center for Disc Replacement Texas Back Institute in Plano, discusses big challenges and opportunities for private practice spine surgeons today.



Dr. Blumenthal is speaking on a panel titled "How Can Spine Surgeons, Orthopedic Surgeons and Pain Management Physicians Thrive in a Changing Market?" at the Becker’s 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine on June 22 to 24, 2017 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register.


Question: What are the biggest challenges for spine surgeons running their own practices today?

Dr. Scott Blumenthal: It's becoming more difficult for spine practices to achieve approvals from third-party payers to appropriately treat their patients. This creates difficult challenges for practices, because it increases the work load on team members securing authorizations, patients get frustrated as they work through the insurance approval process and providers find themselves trying to do the right thing for patients while also meeting the insurance company criteria. Overall it is more costly, creates barriers to the surgeons receiving payment and is not efficient for the treatment of the patient. Additionally, the cost of running a high-quality clinic continues to increase, while the revenue generated from performing professional services decreases.

Q: What are the best practices doing today to ensure success going forward?

SB: The practices that will thrive are ones which will garner multiple sources of income in ancillaries. Surgeons who have deliverable services will receive professional fees and can receive additional income from their ownerships in ASCs or other surgery hospital opportunities. This has become a strong strategy for many practices to provide multiple sources of revenue.

Also, practices have the capability of tracing outcomes data to help them create surgical registries. This data gives practices the ability to negotiate bundled payment contracts based on their outcomes.


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