Philip Louie, MD, is the medical director of research and academics at the Center for Neurosciences and Spine at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle.
Dr. Louie will serve on the panels “Who Controls Patient Behavior? What to Expect in the Next 5 Years” and “Spine Surgery in ASCs: What to Know as Cases Become More Complex” at Becker’s ASC Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker’s is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference on Oct. 27-29 in Chicago.
To learn more and register, click here.
Question: What is the smartest thing you've done in the last year to set your organization up for success?
Philip Louie: Bringing spine surgery to the ASCs. During the height of the pandemic, the time available to perform spine surgery at our main hospital campus was severely limited, but the number of patients requiring surgical care continued to rise. The hospital had an associated ASC, in which spine surgery had never been performed prior to the pandemic. I led an effort to build protocols and create programs for spine surgery in these ASCs, including the training of perioperative staff and OR team members. We started with lumbar decompression surgeries, then included anterior cervical fusions and disc replacements, and are now starting lumbar spine fusions at the ASC. As a result of these efforts, my other colleagues have also started transitioning many of their outpatient spine surgeries to an additional associated ASC as well.
Q: What are you most excited about right now and what makes you nervous?
PL: The ongoing growth in the technology surrounding the full spectrum of spine care is fun to see and be a part of. Monumental efforts are growing with a focus on taking big data to eventually provide more personalized care. I think that machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a large role in further expanding the use of enabling technologies and driving down the cost of surgery, all in the name of providing greater safety and value to our patients. I am excited for an integrated system that will ultimately drive our decision-making throughout the whole continuum of patient care — from preoperative planning and risk stratification to real-time solution proposals intraoperatively, and guiding patient engagement and support postoperatively.
We are seeing major health systems post astronomical financial losses in 2022. Short staffing, burnout and hospital capacity are compounding the ongoing obstacles that we struggle with as we work towards reversing these mounting losses. With growing pressures to produce financial and volume targets with limited — and temporary — resources, there will be an enormous focus on producing quantity of work. I worry that all the work that we have accomplished in building value-based care pathways, developing quality-based programs and academic pursuits to innovate will take a back seat to providing the greatest volume of care to "catch up” and race towards short-term financial goals.
Q: How are you thinking about growth over the next 12 months?
PL: Learning to play offense rather than sit back and play defense will be key to the upcoming 12 months. In our hospital system, there are still many ongoing needs that directly affect patient care, and are ultimately ripe for innovation. Finding ways to create opportunities for our staff to take ownership of ideas, plans and tasks that will allow us to continually improve our patient care. It’s more than just incentivizing people. We need to be empowering our 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.
Q: What will healthcare executives and leaders need to be effective leaders for the next five years?
PL: They need to listen to the physicians and care providers. Patient care must remain the ultimate focus. I encourage all executives and leaders to spend some time on the front lines of patient care and see for themselves the limitations and struggles faced when trying to provide the best possible care. This opportunity will also highlight some of the areas that are going well, which should be recognized and supported. I am a big proponent of physicians and providers having a seat at the table to help drive the large-scale decisions, as we have the best understanding of those most important stakeholders of the organization: our patients.
Q: What is your strategy for recruiting and retaining great teams?
PL: This ultimately starts with creating a work environment in which the current team is eager to participate in. Strengthening the mission and vision of the current team will empower the team members to take ownership of their work and foster an environment that is innovative, enjoyable and advancing ways to care for patients. Job candidates will recognize this environment and will want to be part of a group with this palpable energy.