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Behind Laser Spine Institute's rapid growth: 3 new ASCs in 2014

Laser Spine Institute will be opening three new ambulatory surgery centers this year, breaking into the Midwestern United States. The new centers are located in Cleveland, St. Louis and Cincinnati, increasing the number of residents residing within 250 miles of a Laser Spine Institute facility by 50 percent.

"Lower back pain does not respect any demography or demographic factor; it's present in populations across the United States," says Jamie Adams, chief strategy officer at Laser Spine Institute. "As a whole, chronic or debilitating back pain is present in every geography."

However, the current four Laser Spine Institute locations are several miles away from many people living in Midwestern and Western states. While the centers accommodate medical tourism, travel is difficult for people with back pain and many patients ultimately decide to undergo treatment closer to home.

"By bringing us to them, we are able to make our services and minimally invasive surgery more accessible to more people, given that travel is a significant barrier," says Mr. Adams. "We can look through our database to see how many people were contacting us from farther away places and identified areas where people were in need. Then we assessed the infrastructure for medical support in those cities and found three new places ideal for our next centers."

All the centers will open in a relatively short amount of time, as the company already has a national advertising campaign and expects to draw patients who are already contacting them with interest in Laser Spine Institute services. "We have a long list of people who want to come to us for minimally invasive back surgery," says Mr. Adams. "That has given us confidence that a site in Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis will produce a number of patients for us."

Laser Spine Institute has already filed preliminary paperwork to clear zoning permits and connecting with potential partners in the community. The company is expecting to hire 50 employees in each location within the first three months of opening the centers. Centers can have a huge impact on local economies; a recent report shows Laser Spine Institute had an economic impact of nearly $140 million on the local Tampa Bay economy in 2012 through new jobs, patient treatment and medical travel.

Around 80 percent of Laser Spine Institute patients are non-local residents and drive nearly $14.5 million in medical tourism each year. But, every market is unique and Mr. Adams notes the centers will face different challenges and opportunities in the Midwestern markets.

"If you talk to people in the Great Lakes region, they talk more about snow removal as an issue causing back pain than people in Tampa," he says. "They have different interests and concerns. We are anxious to be solid citizens and good contributors to the new communities. We are committed to being local and understanding the unique markets in the future."

Heading into 2014, Laser Spine Institute had four surgery centers, meaning this year's growth nearly doubles the number of locations across the country. But, growth likely won't stop there. Mr. Adams says the company looks to expand even further into the New England and Mountain West regions in the future.

"There are still a few gaps in our coverage and if we continue to exhibit success and growth, you should look for the map painted in for access to Laser Spine Institute surgery across the country," he says. "We are going from four centers to seven centers. Our management is spending a lot of time to make sure we are maintaining the high standards we have. There are task forces and committees ensuring there is no slippage in patient care and satisfaction."

As Mr. Adams and his colleagues have taken trips to each of the three locations, they are becoming more excited about seeing their centers come to fruition. There are people already applying for jobs at the centers and looking to spread the word.

"What started out as a pure business exercise has become a labor of love," says Mr. Adams.

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