Health IT innovations that could change spine care: 3 surgeons weigh in

Anuja Vaidya -   Print  | Email

Three spine surgeons discuss health IT innovations they expect to see soon.

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: What is the most underrated clinical skill for a spine surgeon?

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

Note: The following responses were edited for length and clarity.

Question: What is the next big health IT innovation you expect to see?

Issada Thongtrangan, MD. Orthopedic Spine and Neurosurgeon at Minimally Invasive Spine (Phoenix): One technology evolution that's already helping is the rapid exchange of patient data, which allows doctors to better understand the context of a patient's overall health. Providers must continue to move away from manual data sharing, such as faxing records to one another, and toward automation. Improving integration of EHR data means labs, care plans and medical histories from various sources are available in minutes or seconds — not days or weeks — so the provider can make a clear diagnosis and develop the most effective care plan in less time. This technology can also play a major role in creating national registry data based on diagnosis, type of treatments, etc. This data will shape and reform our healthcare system because all associated parties can use the data safely while maintaining HIPAA compliance.

Vladimir Sinkov, MD. Spine Surgeon at New Hampshire Orthopaedic Center (Nashua): I am hoping to see better EMR and picture archiving and communication systems integration across different EMR brands. I hope to see more efficient EMR systems that create normal, readable notes and do not slow me down too much in clinic. Eventually, it would be great to see systems that can collect useful and relevant clinical data and perform data analytics that can lead to better and more cost-efficient patient care.

Brian R. Gantwerker, MD. Founder of the Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: The promulgation of cloud-stored images will be evident in the years to come. There are some very exciting innovations in online image repositories. One such system, started by a colleague of mine, allows physicians and surgeons to upload films anywhere in the world and get input from other surgeons. Laypeople and patients can also participate, essentially being able to get virtual consult from almost any expert in the world.

Another exciting innovation is in medical education. More and more of our younger colleagues will be trained on simulated patients using games and virtual reality/artificial reality. I am currently working with a company like this, and it is very exciting to see things being built from the ground up, reshaping how we learn.

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Dr. Andrew Freese: 4 Qs on spine technology and trends ahead


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