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Tid Bits of Info

  • Spinal fusion surgery can cost the healthcare system in excess of $100,000.
  • Greater than 80% of the population has low back pain and greater than 80 billion dollars a year are spent on its treatment.
  • Spinal fusion surgery can take several hours to perform.
  • Women suffer low back pain more frequently than men.
  • If you have low back pain seek the advice of a Physical Therapist and if surgery is recommended seek out a second opinion.

Healthcare is changing.  One key source of change focuses upon the goal of providing great care for the least amount of money.  Medical providers are studying the best ways to improve patient health in a timely and cost-effective manner. A recent study explored the impact of a multidisciplinary approach to a specific type of low back surgery. The positive results suggest that this model could be the future of healthcare from diagnosis through treatment.

The over-utilization of any procedure, modality, technique or process can be looked at as a waste of healthcare spending.  Many groups are currently examining every aspect of medicine to attempt to produce objective data that will support the government and insurance industry’s stance about the excess cost of the current healthcare protocols.  Many different studies focus solely on a single procedure and a single healthcare provider group instead of looking at the overall process of getting someone healthy.

One way to reduce costs without sacrificing high-quality healthcare services is to ask many different providers to assess the same patient.  The multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating a particular patient is probably a long way away, but certain studies have shown that certain procedures might not be the best treatment choice.  The combined insights from all fields of healthcare providers enables the patient to get a treatment protocol from many different focuses on healthcare.  A particular surgeon might think that surgery is the best option while another specialist considers other non-operative options that will resolve the symptoms and restore the patient’s function.

31021517 - medical team meeting around female patient in hospital room

In a recent study, the multidisciplinary approach was taken to assess the need for a specific type of low back surgery.  The “team” approach enabled numerous specialists (surgeons, pain management specialists, neurologists, physical therapists, anesthesiologists, social workers, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners) to assess the disability level, comorbidities, prior treatment and risks associated with that specific patient and recommended surgery.  This “team” of healthcare providers recommended that 58% of the patients that were scheduled to have spine surgery should proceed with a non-operative treatment protocol.  There were secondary discoveries for several patients that participated in the study.  Some had a diagnosis change that did not involve the lumbar spine (OA of the hip instead) and several that did undergo the surgery had a different, less aggressive surgery performed on their back.

The multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment of many ailments will most likely continue to gain support and use in the healthcare world.  The idea that numerous well-educated healthcare professionals communicate with each other to discover the best possible course of treatment for a particular patient is very encouraging and comforting.

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