How to take advantage of value-based care, bundled payments in spine


Frank Phillips, MD, director of spine surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, has been on the forefront of spine care and development throughout his career. He was an early proponent of minimally invasive spine surgery techniques and is now turning his attention to value-based care in the spine space.

Dr. Phillips will be speaking at the Becker's 16th Annual Future of Spine + The Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference. To learn more and register, click here. Contact Maura Jodoin at or Kristelle Khazzaka at for further information about sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities.


Question: What do you see as the biggest opportunity in value-based care for spine surgeons? Where is there room for innovation in the space?


Dr. Frank Phillips: As we move toward a value based system, major challenges revolve around defining "value." Value is defined quite differently by the various stakeholders in healthcare. For an insurance company, value is ultimately defined by returns to shareholders and profitability. I believe that physicians, with their expertise, are in a unique position to play a pivotal role in defining value. Simply put, value represents outcomes divided by cost. Both numerator and denominator in this equation are challenging to define. Spine surgeons need to engage in this process.

Q: How do you expect the value equation to change the practice of spine surgery over the next decade?


FP: Bundled payments will continue to evolve with the inevitable march away from a fee-for-service model. Bundles are readily managed for spinal procedures with reproducible and predictable outcomes, such as ACDF. More complex treatments, such as surgery for advanced spinal deformity, will remain a challenge in a value based purchasing system. With increased emphasis on value and transparency, practices and practitioners' outcomes will become increasing available to the public who will become much more sophisticated healthcare shoppers.


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