5 ways spine surgery is changing: ASCs, endoscopic surgery & more


The last year has been a particularly transformative one for spine care, with telehealth, accelerating outpatient migration and updated site-care-strategies taking center stage.

Hanbing Zhou, MD, a spine surgeon with Orthopedic Associates of Hartford (Conn.), outlines five areas that will continue to evolve in the spine field in the coming years:

Note Responses are lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: How do you see spine care changing in the next 5 years?

Dr. Hanbing Zhou: Five areas:

1. ASCs. There will be an increasing movement toward the ASC/outpatient setting. This is valued by the patient and payer and will drive new technology to enable outpatient care.

2. Endoscopic spine. The drive to outpatient care will require focus on the endoscopic spine approach for many pathologies as it becomes the standard of care for decompression to reduce morbidity and return patients to their lives more quickly.

3. Artificial intelligence. AI-guided surgery will be the next wave to improve safety, planning and outcomes for spine surgery. It will be interesting to see how they can integrate and complement current technologies to improve patient care and manage costs.

4. Value-based care. How do health systems, surgeons and device companies converge (or not) to facilitate cost-focused and outcome-focused care? This will be important to increase access to spine care with the choices that patients and surgeons want.

5. Telemedicine. App-enabled telemedicine will provide the opportunity for more personalized pre- and postoperative virtual patient care visits. This is a scalable technology that will increase patient satisfaction and access. 

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