How Laser Spine Institute will grow in the future: Q&A with President and CEO Roger Cary

President and CEO of Laser Spine Institute, Roger Cary, has a keen eye toward creating a culture of quality care. The Tampa, Fla.-based spine ASC chain has locations across the country, and plans to expand with both surgical and conservative care locations.

Here, Mr. Cary discusses Laser Spine Institute's mission and vision, and why he is excited about the future.

Q: How have you established a positive culture at Laser Spine Institute?

Roger Cary: As the leader of Laser Spine Institute, I get a thrill when I walk through the hallways and talk to our teammates. They often give me what I call the “three finger salute,” and what that tells me is that they really understand our mission, vision and values. If you fold your index finger and thumb together and look at the remaining fingers, the largest represents what we consider the most important part of our mission, vision and values: making a difference in patients' lives. The second is our goal of making a difference in as many lives as possible. And the smallest finger represents our goal to provide efficient care in a fair manner that allows us to generate a return that we can reinvest in the top two fingers.

I feel most healthcare executives today are doing it backwards; they are more concerned about how they will survive than patient care, and that cuts through their organizations. Patients realize this isn't the organization they're used to and they want to go somewhere else. However, at Laser Spine Institute, we let the nurses and surgeons worry about making the patient better.

Q: How do you keep teammates motivated around this mission?

RC: We do a lot of work with the military at Laser Spine Institute, and our teammates get excited by that opportunity. Many served in the armed forces and they love the idea of serving those who are in our military. We conducted a study with 83 active service people and special forces at our centers. One hundred percent of those patients returned to active duty, and surgery really made a difference in those peoples' lives.

“Care” is one of our organization’s CHOICE values, and providing the best patient care possible has been a rallying cry from the beginning.

Q: Are you engaged in any other data gathering efforts beyond those with the military?

RC: We do collect patient data and now have 15,000 patients in our database. In the last six months we have been able to extrapolate data from around 2,000 patients, and our goal is to get through all 15,000 currently in our system. We believe we can help shape the procedures that ASCs do in the future. Our surgeons also present at professional society meetings, including the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. It was wonderful to see our Dr. Reginald Davis present our outcomes data on procedures performed in the ASC instead of the hospital.

We did an analysis and found we can do spine surgery in a less expensive location than the hospital and improve outcomes, reducing patients' pain. In many cases, we are doing the same procedures as what’s being done in the hospital, and our patient satisfaction is more than 90 percent.

Q: Where is Laser Spine Institute headed in the future?

RC: We truly believe that Total Spine Care is the direction Laser Spine Institute will be going. The average patient that comes to us has been in pain for more than six years; they may have been taking opioids, undergoing pain management and never had a good pathway for their continuity of care. But we're working on a Total Spine Care program and will eventually get into conservative care. Right now, we treat around 5 percent of the patients that get into serious discussions with us; most patients need conservative care and aren't good candidates for surgery. But they are in pain, so we want to designate locations within a 50-mile radius of each facility with conservative care options and postoperative physical therapy.

Once patients become surgical candidates, the number one reason they don't use our care is travel. We know we need to be closer to our patients. We have our first 10 affiliates; practitioners that come to our center and get certified, and that we have a relationship with. We are building the Total Spine Care Network affiliations across the country, and that's very exciting. I would like to have affiliations from Maine to California, from Washington to Texas. We have ASCs in every region and eventually we expect to have around 30 to 45 affiliations in each region that would help us serve more patients we aren't currently able to accept.

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