How is the US healthcare industry covered in the media? 4 spine, neurosurgeons discuss

Written by Alan Condon | September 04, 2019 | Print  |

Four spine and neurosurgeons share their thoughts on how the healthcare industry is covered in the media.

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: How do you ensure you stay on top of your game and avoid burnout?

Please send responses to Alan Condon at by Wednesday, September 11, 5 p.m. CST.

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

Question: What is your opinion of the way the healthcare industry is covered in the media?

Brian R. Gantwerker, MD. Founder of the Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: In the podcast "Dr. Death," as well as some local media outlets, physicians are portrayed as sociopathic, money-grubbing monsters. That being said, there are a lot of great physicians and surgeons doing great work that make the headlines. For instance, my colleague Dr. Michael LeMole's work by saving Gabby Giffords, and Sanjay Gupta, MD, bringing neurosurgery to the masses with his work on CNN are ways that we can be accurately portrayed. The truth is there are a lot of bad actors out there and all we can do is pour ourselves into our work and do as much good as possible. We can also (in accordance with HIPAA) tweet and post with patient-centric information and realistic good outcome cases.  

Scott Russo, MD. Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan (Grand Rapids): The media could focus more on the good the healthcare industry provides while raising questions on areas that need improvement. We need to approach things more as a team working towards common ground than as enemies.

Plas James, MD. Atlanta Spine Institute: The huge problem is that we need healthcare for all, not Medicare for all. People need options. I visited Germany, England and Switzerland and they had private and public health insurance. And these countries are nowhere near the population of America. We need options in America. The media has portrayed Medicare for all as the best option, which it's not. They don't know the difference between private insurance and Medicare in terms of access and approval.

Issada Thongtrangan, MD. Microspine (Phoenix): I would like to see more inspirational content, successful stories and educational content covered by the media. Social and digital media have been more popularized in the healthcare industry in the past several years. We as physicians should take advantage of using social media to educate patients and the community rather than as a false marketing tool. For example, there is a growing phenomenon of self-diagnosis and letting Google serve as a physician ... again, signals the need for public education even more.

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