The long & short of it: What are spine surgeons' goals for the future?

Written by Anuja Vaidya | May 29, 2015 | Print  | Email

Here, three spine surgeons discuss their goals, in the short and long term, to ensure their practice continues to thrive in a rapidly evolving spine care landscape.

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: Do you see the M&A activity among orthopedic device companies as a positive or negative trend? Why?

Please send responses to Anuja Vaidya at by Wednesday, June 3, at 5 p.m. CST.


Question: What are some short-and long-term goals you've set for your practice?


Patrick C. Hsieh, MD, Director, Minimally Invasive Spine Program, USC Spine Center, Keck Medicine of USC, Los Angeles: I started my Hsiehpractice at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California seven years ago. With the addition of several new spine surgeons in the past two years, we now have a core group of leading academic spine surgeons that can deliver the highest level of care in all facets of spine surgery, including minimally invasive spine, spinal deformity, spine trauma and spine tumor surgeries. My short-term career goal is to continue to promote growth and expansion of the USC Spine Center's footprint in Southern California. Through a combination of patient care, education and research, I believe that we will be the preeminent spine program recognized by our patients, referring physicians and community.


We have a tremendous advantage in our program in which both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons truly work closely together on a daily basis to provide patient care and education to our trainees. I ensure that our residents and fellows are exposed to some of the latest techniques and innovations in degenerative spine, minimally invasive spine, spinal deformity and spine tumor surgeries. With their tremendous exposure and hands-on experience during their training, our residents and fellows will be prepared to manage complex spinal pathology from day one in their practice. In terms of research, my goal is to develop translational research to improve treatments of spine tumors, spinal deformity and spinal cord injury. I hope to advance our research endeavors in chordoma treatment, spinal cord injury repair and spinal application of stem cell at USC. In addition, because of my passion for spinal oncology, I strive to develop a top-notch multidisciplinary spine tumor program in Southern California. Ultimately, I aim to improve the treatment outcome and quality of life for our spine tumor patients.  


As an academic neurosurgeon and spine surgeon, I believe that I can impact the future of spine care for patients through education and research. Therefore, my long-term personal career goal is focused on cultivating education and research for spine treatment at USC. Through our residency and spine fellowship programs, I want to help to train neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons to become future leaders in spine surgery.  


AnandNeel Anand, MD, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Director, Spine Trauma, Cedars-Sinai Spine Center (Los Angeles): I want to continue doing what we have been doing, which is providing the highest quality of care and doing what is right for our patients. In the long term, I want to focus on developing better and more specific minimally invasive spine techniques.


Richard Kube, MD, Founder, CEO, Prairie Spine & Pain Institute, Peoria, Ill.: In a single word — more. Specifically, we Kubedo strategically plan for the near and distant future. In the short term, we are focused on the ramp up of an additional satellite office location. We are also giving attention to our recently hired — six months ago — spine surgeon, Dr. Ahmed Mohamed, who primarily serves patients at our Southern Illinois location. He has been steadily adding to the geographical footprint we started when the location was a part-time satellite clinic. He is already becoming busy. We hope to further refine as well as expand the services we provide there. We are also in the process of recruiting another physician to assist with our current volume at our main office in Peoria. Those are our main goals for the next six to12 months.  


With respect to longer term goals, some of the shorter term goals do spill over into the longer term. We intend to continue our model of expanding regionally through satellite creation, physician hire and the evolution of satellites into a full-time presence. We are also refining contracts with payers. Although it is also a short-term goal, we see it taking some time, working with the payers to help them understand bundled payments and how we create value for their insured lives by taking surgical cases from the hospital environment to the ambulatory setting. There are certainly a lot of additional specific ideas, but these are the most pressing ones that regularly appear during conversation with management.


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