Spine surgery is a dynamic field with evolving opportunities to succeed within the value-based healthcare ecosystem. But surgeons who aren't doing these three things could be left behind.
1. Performing cases in ASCs
The trend toward outpatient spine surgery began well before the pandemic, but accelerated in the last two years when patients and surgeons wanted to stay out of hospitals treating patients with COVID-19. Technology such as the endoscope also continues to make spinal procedures less invasive so it's easier for patients to return home shortly after surgery.
"My hope would be that we look back in five years, congratulating ourselves for the monumental progress we have made in shifting cases to the outpatient world, and see these past couple years as a tipping point in that precipitous movement," said Grant Shifflett, MD, a spine surgeon with DISC Sports and Spine Center in Newport Beach, Calif. "I think if you’re not on the train that's moving patients to the outpatient environment now, you'll be in an increasingly isolated position in five years."
2. Collecting clinical outcomes and payment data
Data collection will be crucial to delivering more personalized care in the future and proving the value of the care provided.
"Data become valuable when they are reflected in day-to-day performance," said Mark Vorherr, CEO of Cincinnati-based Mayfield Brain & Spine. "I believe that both qualitative and quantitative data are equally valuable in sustaining an elite, independent medical group. By expanding our reporting and mining of proactive outcomes data, we are positioned to expand our leadership in high-quality patient care."
3. Marketing directly to patients
Surgeons are also seeing more referrals coming through nontraditional sources. While it will still be important to have great relationships with referring physicians and an outstanding word-of-mouth reputation in the community, surgeons are also seeing great results with direct-to-patient marketing.
"We are seeing that more patients are going online to seek information," said Alok Sharan, MD, a spine surgeon with NJ Spine and Wellness in East Brunswick, N.J. "Beyond the traditional Google search, patients are looking for information on Youtube and social media. Not only do these channels provide information and knowledge, but they also allow patients to determine if they can trust the physician."
Issada Thongtrangan, MD, of Microspine in Scottsdale, Ariz., also said his main referrals now are direct consumers via Google ads and social media platforms.
"Mainly, I share with them and educate them so they know their options and how my approach will benefit them more than some others," he said. "I am also planning to connect with more patients via online webinars in 2022."