It's an honor to discuss spine care through this forum.
Thank you SpineUniverse for the opportunity to blog on your site and for Readers for reading! It is with great enthusiasm that I embark on my blog titled "Perspectives on Spine Care under Obamacare." Only through open discussion can there be meaningful change . . . and there is no doubt that health care in US is poised for major change!
I have been a practicing orthopaedic spine surgeon for 10 years. In the past 2 years, I have shifted my focus to consulting (LucentSpine), while still maintaining a small, active surgical practice (Specialists in Spine Surgery) focused on value instead of volume. It has been a great privilege to be a spine surgeon and to be so trusted by patients to allow me to treat them with radical techniques such as spine surgery.
After completing my orthopaedic residency, I decided to pursue subspecialty training in spine surgery. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a clinical fellow in adult and pediatric spinal deformity and complex cervical spine surgery at Washington University, St. Louis, under the tutilage of Drs. Keith Bridwell, Larry Lenke, and Dan Riew. My mentors not only taught me cutting edge surgical techniques, they also consistently modeled professionalism, ethical decision-making, and innovation.
The reason I chose spine surgery was because of the incredible opportunity to make a dramatic impact on the quality of life of appropriately selected patients. I felt that it was of enormous value to patients and myself to focus on quality of life, not necessarily the quantity of life. For the most part, spine care and spine surgery doesn't save lives . . . it preserves function and improves lives.
To this day, I am still amazed at the healing potential spine surgery, to immediately relieve pain or to prevent paralysis. When done for the appropriate patient, spine surgeries can be one of the most successful, highest value procedures in orthopaedics and in all of medicine.
The present-day challenge we are facing as a nation is reforming a health care system that is headed in an unsustainable direction. Heath care and spine care will be faced with tremendous change and uncertainty in the near future, however, two vital ingredients will persist . . . individual patients and good doctors. I am excited to engage patients and doctors through this blog to engage in discussion on spine care, as we shift from the traditional, volume-based health care model, to a value-based health care model. Through open dialogue, hopefully patients and doctors can help each other better contribute to improving spine care and health care.
Please stay tuned for discussion of some potentially disruptive topics! This blog can only be successful with your input!
Stan Lee, M.D.