Surviving as an independent physician & shifting to outpatient care: 3 spine surgeons on new opportunities in the field

Alan Condon -   Print  |

Three spine surgeons share their insight on new opportunities in the field.

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 next big innovation for minimally invasive spine surgery?

Please send responses to Alan Condon at acondon@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, May 6.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What do you see as the biggest opportunities for spine practice at the moment?

Isador Lieberman, MD. Texas Back Institute (Plano): The pandemic has catalyzed many innovative methods of continuing to provide the most appropriate spine care in a safer and presumably cost-effective manner. Every aspect of care delivery is now being scrutinized to ensure patient safety, eliminate redundancies and minimize the bureaucracy of the current healthcare system. In spine care, the simplest activities such as getting a prescription to the patient, and the most complex action such as examining a patient, have changed dramatically. This will translate into new opportunities in our clinics and hospitals to become more precise and efficient. Over time these philosophies will translate to the operating room.

Srdjan Mirkovic, MD. Northshore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute (Chicago): I anticipate there will be a big shift to outpatient care. Older patients are more resistant to it. They want to be hospitalized for a day or two post-surgery. But younger people already are requesting it. Safe outpatient surgery for some candidates remains debatable. There has not been a lot of literature to support it. But I expect the COVID-19 health crisis to accelerate the number of patients who receive outpatient care, so the efficacy of outpatient versus inpatient spine care will be determined quicker during this pandemic. Research prior to the coronavirus was moving slowly, so this is just one more way COVID-19 will likely permanently impact the delivery of how we practice spine care.

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: I think the biggest opportunity is survival as an independent physician. Amongst the avalanche of consolidation and being terrorized by obsolescence, being a quality surgeon in a crowded field remains the best opportunity.  

More articles on spine:
Geoff Martha, Kevin Lobo & more: 5 CEOs to know in the spine industry
Wright Medical inches toward sale, makes pay cuts due to pandemic: 5 updates
How COVID-19 has affected Medtronic, Stryker, Johnson & Johnson's shares over the last month

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