What orthopedic, spine surgeons are most focused on for the 2nd half of 2022

Ariana Portalatin -  

Some of the top priorities for spine and orthopedic surgeons during the second half of 2022 include staying ahead of the competition against MSOs and large hospital systems, improving patient care and recruiting staff. 

Six surgeons recently shared with Becker's what their top priorities are for the rest of the year:

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

James Chappuis, MD. Spine surgeon at Spine Center Atlanta: First and foremost is staffing: Since Covid, it has been a constant problem both clinically and in our business office. 

Second is the growth of MSOs and further mergers and acquisitions of orthopedic practices. It is becoming more difficult to continue on as a smaller private practice.

Finally, despite all of the above concerns and others, our biggest challenge at Spine Center Atlanta is to continue to provide first-class compassionate care for all of our patients.

Robert Hirschl, MD. Chairman of neurosurgery, president of Neuroscience Institute at Orlando (Fla.) Heath: The top priority for my team is staffing.  We are practicing in an unprecedented time where there are staffing shortages across the board. Not having enough nurses, radiology technicians, scrub technicians, CRNA's, etc. have really hindered our ability to provide the level of care we are accustomed to providing for our patients.

We need to think outside the box when it comes to our staff utilization and how we recruit and retain top quality individuals.

We also are focused on overall growth and quality.  We have added three more neurosurgeons to our group bringing us to a total of 14, as well as many more neurologists and pain physicians to our institute. Quality metrics remain a top priority for us now and continuing into the future.

Richard Price III, MD, PhD. Neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at Spine Nevada (Reno): Personally, I recently started using Augmedics in my practice. My immediate priority is to integrate this exciting technology into the workflow of my cases. I am impressed with the accurate real-time navigation. It is not only useful for screw placement, but also for precisely docking tubular retractors and planning trajectories for [minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion surgery]. In particular, I have found Augmedics to be a powerful adjunct for revision cases performed minimally invasively. As I become more agile with the technology, I am finding additional applications for it.

My practice, Spine Nevada, recently partnered with Healthcare Outcomes Performance Company in order to more effectively deliver value-based care. Additionally, we have integrated an orthopedic practice into our traditional neurosurgical group as well. We are now a comprehensive musculoskeletal group with the ability to provide total cranial, spinal and orthopedic care. Also, we are transitioning to another EMR to better accommodate our needs. Our main priority in the second half of 2022 is to seamlessly grow and integrate our groups to provide exceptional value-based care to our community.

Christopher MacKay, MD. Neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at Spine & Brain (Wausau, Wis.): The top priorities for my practice during the second half of 2022 can be divided into business priorities and clinical priorities. 

From the business perspective, the challenge to my independent practice is to garner referrals in a local healthcare marketplace that is now dominated by two large systems which of course want to maintain patients within their systems. The goal will be to provide a more personalized and individualized patient-centered spine care experience than is offered by the large systems. Patients will often describe their spine care experience in a large system as fragmented, in that they are sent from one provider to another and then another.  

From the clinical perspective, I would like to explore the possible benefits of incorporating robotics into my surgical practice, but am waiting for a determination from the hospital as to whether or not they intend to invest in this technology. 

Philip Louie, MD. Spine surgeon at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): The healthcare field is clearly struggling right now. The ongoing effects of the pandemic continue to impact staffing shortages, budget crises, provider/staff burnout and a growing list of patients that require treatment. So, during these unprecedented times, how do we motivate our exhausted teams, maintain the missions and core values of our practices and provide exceptional care to patients? And remember, many of these patients have put off much of their medical care over the past couple of years. Like the old saying goes, "innovation is bred out of necessity." But we want to take this one step further … innovation is the unrelenting drive to combine our mission/values/principles with action; in ways that may be viewed outside of the status quo or initially misunderstood.

My goal (and the goal of our practice) is to take our current situation, as dire as it may feel at times, and create opportunities for all of our staff members to take ownership of ideas, plans, and tasks that will allow us to continually improve the care that we provide for our patients. It’s more than just incentivizing people. If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect. And this is our goal. Empowering our staff and teams to think outside of the box and create new value streams to better serve our patients in a cost-restrained healthcare landscape that is in dire need for additional innovations.

John Stevenson, MD. Neurosurgeon at The Orthopedic Institute (Gainesville, Fla.): We are focusing on consolidating our multidisciplinary Spine Care Partners team. Our initiative to spine care is to provide a team approach to the management of spinal conditions that come to our practice. Our team consists of a neurospine surgeon, an orthopedic spine surgeon and a pain management physician. We have several mid-level providers that aid us in the diagnosis and management of our spine patients. We are providing treatment from back sprains to spinal cord tumors, a comprehensive approach to spine care. A collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to spine care I believe is the future for treating our patients.

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