From policy to patient access, here are the aspects of the spine surgery industry that six surgeons would want to change.
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. Becker’s invites all spine surgeon and specialist responses.
Editor’s note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.
Question: What’s one thing you would change about the spine surgery industry?
Richard Kube II, MD. Prairie Spine & Pain Institute (Peoria, Ill.): The industry is overly regulated. I cannot say that I have seen any of the touted patient safety improved care concepts play out as a result of the regulation. There are simply more boxes to fill, which take time away from the care the patients need. It is increasingly harder to work with industry to innovate and develop. Most companies find themselves limited to what they can reimburse hourly. As a solo surgeon with a facility and staff, etc, I am in the red any time I consult for an implant company. Hospitals increasingly tell physicians what to do. The regulation hits from all sides.
Other physicians also weigh in with comments about improving access to innovative and minimally invasive procedures, which can help reduce the need for more invasive surgeries, resulting in quicker recovery times and less postoperative pain for patients. Another surgeon from Newport Beach, California states, “I would like to see better cost transparency in spine surgery in terms of biological and hardware implants. Surgeons are an integral part of managing healthcare costs, and lack of this knowledge may be harmful in the long term. For instance, this information would help us work with our facilities to advocate for certain implants that could be slightly more expensive, but more cost effective in the long term than other devices that are cheaper but have worse long-term durability.”