5 Ways Independent Spine Surgeons Contribute to Spinal Research

Becker's Spine Review—December 11, 2012

Academicians are often considered the surgeon-scientists who will contribute most to the research and development of spine surgery, but the private practice spine surgeons also have many opportunities to meaningfully advance the field.

"There doesn't have to be a difference between private practice and academics in the advancing of the science," says Andrew Sama, MD, a spine surgeon and spine fellowship director with Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "There are more private practice surgeons than academics, so they have more of an impact on how spine surgery is perceived around the world. The academicians write the papers, but private practitioners are also involved in clinical research."

Here are five ways spine surgeons in private practice can contribute to the body of research making an impact on the field today.

1. Collect and examine individual data. With the proliferation of electronic medical records, individual spine surgeons, practices and hospitals are now able to easily store and extract data about patient care. Spine surgeons who are interested in contributing to the field can gather their personal data and publish the results.

"Based on how patients do, you can conclude that performing a certain procedure in a particular hospital with their nursing staff is good, bad or doesn't make a difference," says Dr. Sama. "I think demonstrating the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of different procedures and surgeries is going to be of paramount importance as the field tightens its belt. We have to demonstrate that what we do makes a difference for the patients and is sustainable within our system."

Publishing individual data can also become a ready benchmark for other surgeons locally and across the country. If you are more efficient than others, you can share your methodology to improve outcome across the board.

"Insurance companies are becoming more stringent with what they approve and don't approve," says Dr. Sama. "We should be advocating for ourselves by providing meaningful data, which is typically outcomes data."

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Read all five ways spine surgeons can contribute to spine research at beckerspine.com.

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