How spine surgeons ensure patient engagement post-discharge

Anuja Vaidya -   Print  |

Three spine surgeons discuss patient engagement strategies.

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.

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Question: What are some ways in which you ensure patients remain engaged in their care after being discharged?

Brian R. Gantwerker, MD. Founder of the Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: We provide referrals to qualified home health agencies to provide an early warning system to prevent readmissions. We also have focused but detailed discussions about the specifics of the 'what-to-do's' and 'what-not-to-do's' during their postoperative period. Educating them on warning signs, and when to call, keeps them vested in their care.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. Spinal Neurosurgeon at Saint Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): Patient engagement is the precursor to patient accountability, which requires physician/provider engagement and continuum as a tactical methodology for spinal healthcare delivery. Accessible lines of communication predicated with constant messaging and encouragement are well suited for recovery and outcome measurability.

Knowledgeable, communicative nursing is essential within 10-day and monthly follow-up appointments that bridge gaps in postoperative time periods. At the six-week interval, mandatory follow-up is encouraged and attended by surgeon and patient. Patient engagement becomes earnest when patient perceptions about rendering outcomes is team related.  

Thomas Hudgins, MD. Section Head of PM&R Outpatient Specialty Programs at NorthShore University HealthSystem's Neurological Institute (Glenview, Ill.): Ultimately, you need buy-in from the patient on their treatment plan before they leave the medical facility for them to remain engaged in their care. Ninety percent of musculoskeletal injuries can be treated with conservative, nonsurgical care. A comprehensive program may include medications, physical therapy or a therapeutic corticosteroid or regenerative injection. But what is universal in any treatment algorithm is the active participation of the individual patient.

As a physician treating a variety of orthopedic musculoskeletal injuries, I want to both formulate the correct diagnosis and target the root cause of the issue that brought the patient to my office so that we can prevent future recurrences. The cause is often related to some biomechanical deficiency that can be corrected with an active exercise program. Once patients understand that this is the core of both treatment and prevention then they usually buy into the recommendation that this therapeutic exercise program needs to be integrated into their routine indefinitely.

More articles on spine:
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$3B in emerging opportunity for spine devices market: 5 things to know
How 5 orthopedic surgeons plan to grow their practices in 2019


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