Spine surgeons brace for 'wild and crazy 2024'


With last year in the rearview mirror, spine surgeons are preparing for the challenges and opportunities ahead for this year.

"I am excited, hopeful and also a bit scared, for a wild and crazy 2024," Choll Kim, MD, PhD, of San Diego-based Spine Surgeon at Excel Spine Center told Becker's. "There are three areas of profound interest to me. First and foremost is endoscopic spine surgery. I have been diligently working in this area for almost 20 years, but in the last two years, I have noticed a palpable change in the environment. There is now a small cadre of young spine surgeons who have embraced this technology, and have become evangelists. The field of endoscopic spine surgery is on the verge of a tipping point, and will soon be like knee and shoulder arthroscopy. Everything, everywhere, all at once."

Endoscopic spine surgery has grown in 2023 and interest likely won't wane in 2024. However endoscopic spine surgery could pose a challenge with payers. 

But spine surgeons have emphasized the importance of research when it comes to winning over payer interest.

"The onus is on us as a community to perform research that is credible and ethical, such that we perform evidence-based surgery," Dr. Rothrock told Becker's. "My attitude is that there’s enough of a foothold in the community of spine surgeons that I think [reimbursements] will get there."

Other areas gaining attention from spine surgeons include social media and artificial intelligence. 

"Social media has dramatically changed my practice," Dr. Kim said. "While it has been a very effective way for patients to find me, its greatest impact has been on how I educate my patients, their families and their referring providers about spine issues."

For some spine surgeons social media is a chance to build a brand beyond their practices and reach people outside their regions.

"Find a topic that you are passionate about, because the grind will be far more enjoyable," Philip Louie, MD, and Venu Nemani, MD, PhD, who created TheAthleteSpine, told Becker's. "Consider how you can apply some of your social media efforts into your work and patient care. And lastly, find some people to go on the journey with —- as fresh eyes and honest perspectives are critical in a world where anyone is just one click (or swipe) away from your content."

Spine surgeons and orthopedic surgeons are keeping their eyes on another looming presence in medicine — AI.

"I am scared, but excited at the same time, about the potential impact of AI in medicine," Dr. Kim said. "The first example of its use for me would be to create an AI avatar of myself who could answer the multitude of highly redundant but important questions posed to me and my staff."

For one orthopedic surgeon, AI presents healthy competition that he hopes will benefit patient care.

"The biggest trend in orthopedics right now is the arms race that is artificial intelligence," Brian Grawe, MD, of the University of Cincinnati, said. "This arms race includes better, more efficient delivery of patient care, as well as decreasing the cost burden of medical care. I believe that harnessing the power of AI will allow surgeons to better meet the expectations of their patients, more effectively communicate about the point of care options, and ultimately maximize the work flow of getting patients in the door and out the door. We are at the tip of the iceberg and the ceiling is high."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers