Dr. Jocelyn Idema: 3 challenges, 3 opportunities for an independent outpatient spine practice

Jocelyn Idema, DO, is a fellowship trained spine surgeon with Advanced Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation in Washington, Pa. She has experience with minimally invasive spine surgery and motion-preserving technology. Most of her spinal fusion patients return home within 24 hours of surgery.

Here, Dr. Idema discusses the three biggest concerns for her practice and where spine is headed in the future.

Top three concerns for my practice:

1. Time spent with patients in the office. My perspective as a private practice spine surgeon is obviously different from a hospital employed surgeon. One of the areas that I see vastly different is the amount of time I spend with patients. I try to spend as much time as possible with each patient so they get a thorough examination and explanation of signs/symptoms/diagnostics; however, this becomes increasingly difficult when we have so many patients to see. This must be balanced against the decreasing reimbursements for office visits, forcing us to see more patients in a shorter amount of time.

2. Contract negotiations for reimbursement and in-network versus out-of-network contracts. As we move toward bundled payments, which encompass pre-, peri- and post-op care, it becomes increasingly difficult weigh reimbursements with employee costs. Can we do more with less?

3. Non-surgical providers considering the addition of surgical interventions without proper training for these procedures and their potential complications.

The biggest opportunities for spine surgeons today:

1. Utilizing surgery centers and orthopedic specialty hospitals as a majority of spine surgeries can be done on an outpatient basis.

2. Motion preservation and minimally invasive technologies continue to become more mainstream and desired by patients.

3. Motion preservation and MIS techniques are increasingly requested by the patient-consumer. They do not wish for lengthy hospital stays, delayed return to work or potential revision/adjacent level surgery.

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