5 big growth opportunities in spine

Written by Laura Dyrda | February 11, 2019 | Print  |

Here are key thoughts from five spine surgeons as they discuss the biggest opportunities for practice growth in the coming year.

Key themes the surgeons discussed include:

• Taking more outpatient procedures into the ASC
• Incorporating cutting-edge technology
• Taking steps to engage in value creation and bundled payments
• Partnering with multidisciplinary spine specialists for patient-centered care
• Using technology such as social media for marketing and telehealth for follow-up visits

Kern Singh, MD. Co-Director of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at Rush and Partner at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (Chicago): 1. Increasing ancillary utilization will allow private practices to maintain autonomy. Orthopedists are learning quickly that relying solely upon professional revenues is not sustainable. Rather, other avenues for revenues will need to be maximized, including durable medical equipment, MRI and physical therapy.

2. Bundled Payments Care Initiative will be an area of significant growth for those practices that specialize in high volume acuity of care — total hips, knees and spine —and can provide these treatments in a cost-contained, low complication fashion. Margins are still large in BPCI, and with the correct infrastructure, this can still be a source of significant revenue for the private practitioner.

3. Social media and online marketing will continue to grow. The ability to capture large audiences with a smaller cost can allow all practices the ability to increase patient flow. Real time social media — Facebook, Instagram and search engine optimization — is key to the evolving world of healthcare marketing.

Alpesh Patel, MD. Co-Director of the Northwestern Spine Center (Chicago): In general, growth for businesses entering spine is going to come from meaningful innovation that then creates product differentiation. Meaningful innovation will only occur if real clinical needs are met: safer, reliable and predictable spinal fusion as one example. Studies, like the upcoming Kuros study on Fibrin-Parathyroid hormone, will provide evidence as to whether or not these clinical needs are being met. Those facts, presented within a framework of improving patient outcomes, can be drivers of growth.

Jocelyn Idema, DO. Orthopedic Spine Surgeon (Pittsburgh and Washington, Pa.): I see the best opportunities for growth are in the outpatient spine sector. I feel as though the surgical culture continues to move towards patient-centered healthcare, and thus we can really work out a lot of issues before and after surgery in the comfort of the patient's own homes. By utilizing home health and therapy teams effectively in the patient-centered mindset, I am beginning to see a lot of opportunity in telehealth and reaching out to patients across the country, but also when you can't wait for an appointment in four to six weeks. With videotaped exams we can at least initiate treatment electronically with PT, medications and ordering of X-rays, and then bring you in for a face-to-face follow-up appointment later. I do know of a few companies that are starting to work towards providing these types of services for patients.

Charles Gordon, MD. CEO of Precision Spine Center and Founder of Texas Spine & Joint Hospital (Tyler, Texas): We believe that with interdisciplinary consolidation [there] is also an opportunity for value creation. Bringing like-minded physicians in complementary specialties together not only improves patient convenience, but [also] achieves some scaling efficiency and reduces overall costs.

Finally, as readers of Becker's surely know, there appears to be continued regulatory and consumer support in favor of ASC-based procedures over those done in a traditional hospital setting, when appropriate. Technical improvements also are enabling this trend. We see this as a continued opportunity in select markets.

Stephen Hochschuler, MD. Founding Physician of Texas Back Institute (Plano): Growth in spine:

(1) Application of artificial intelligence using registries, information technology, predictive analytics.

(2) Integration of telemedicine to streamline care and lower costs while increasing access.

More articles on spine surgery:
The potential for bundled payments: Hospital for Special Surgery Chief of Spine explains
The future of spine—key factors driving decision makers today
9 spine & neurosurgeons on the move in January


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