Dr. Frank Phillips: The 3 core organizational issues that will position orthopedic, spine practices for the future


Frank Phillips, MD, is program director for the section of minimally invasive spine surgery at Chicago-based Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and Rush University Medical Center's director of the spine surgery division.

Throughout his career, Dr. Phillips has stayed on the cutting edge of minimally invasive and motion-preservation techniques. He previously served as the director of the spine center at the University of Chicago Medicine and president of the Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.

Dr. Phillips is a featured speaker at the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + The Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference, June 13-15 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register. For more information about exhibitor and sponsor opportunities, contact Maura Jodoin at mjodoin@beckershealthcare.com.

Here, Dr. Phillips discusses the key challenges and opportunities for spine surgeon leaders today.

Question: How has your role as a spine department leader evolved over the past two to three years?

Dr. Frank Phillips: The focus has shifted from managing day-to-day practice issues to exploring opportunities for "big picture" spinal care as we move towards a value-based system. As clinical revenues stagnate, ancillary and growth opportunities are becoming a critical component to maintaining a flourishing spinal program. Evaluating and implementing these opportunities will be critical for success.

Q: What do you consider your No. 1 priority to ensure departmental success?

FP: In today's medical environment, questions regarding the optimal practice styles and organizational structure are becoming critical. Is size and scale crucial for success? Do we need to grow organically or by practice acquisition? Do we fund growth internally or solicit outside non-traditional sources of capital? Addressing these organizational core issues is a priority for positioning our department for the future.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you are facing as head of the department and how are you overcoming that?

FP: Alignment of surgeons with varied practice patterns at different stages of their careers in a shifting medical landscape is challenging. The understanding of where spine care is heading and how certain practice styles and approaches may not be ideal in today's healthcare arena is important to align all surgeons.

Q: What are the department's goals for 2019 and what is your vision moving forward?

FP: I would like to see expansion and growth of our department both geographically and in terms of surgeons that fill clinical needs we are not currently realizing. We need to aggressively manage our clinical outcomes, harnessing the advantages of 'big data' and ensure we continue to provide the highest quality care to our patients and be able to document this in a way that resonates with all stakeholders.

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