Spine Centers of Excellence

An Overview

Big surgical lamp in operation theaterA Chicago area Advocate Healthcare facility began the process of setting up an operative/ non-operative Spine Center of Excellence. The hospital spent a year implementing the various phases outlined in this article to create a hospital-based multi-disciplinary Center of Excellence for spine care as part of a 25,000 square foot fitness facility. The center opened its doors with resounding success and to this day, is flourishing with new patients and steadily increasing revenues.

According to Jim Johnston, Administrator of the Spine Center, "Prior to developing the operative/ non-operative Spine Center, our hospital had a declining marketshare in a stagnant market. It was not well- organized and seeing patients was fragmented, like shooting in the dark. The Spine Center changed all of this for our hospital.”

By developing a Spine Center, the hospital was able to regain a local as well as regional presence. They are currently seeing 240 patients a month, 120 of which are new. Some come from as far away as Tennessee and California. They have been so successful, that they are now facing a situation in which there are not enough physicians to handle the volume.

In developing the center, one of the most important keys to their success was grouping the specialties together in a seamless, integrated, organized fashion. The center encompasses all fields involved with spine. “And we are getting great reviews from patients. They love how well the team members communicate with one another and that they do not have to repeatedly give their medical history over and over again,” stated Johnston. The multi-disciplinary approach is comprehensive and facilitates high patient satisfaction. For this hospital, the model is working so well that it is considering using the same approach approach in developing programs in other areas, such as cardiac and renal.

Such a case study is typical of the growing number of Spine Centers across the nation. Why is this trend toward Spine Centers emerging?

The answer may be due to the trials and tribulations of managed care which have forced providers to understand the business as well as the clinical practice of medicine. Under the restraints of declining revenues and advances in minimally invasive surgery, hospitals, physicians and facilities are starting to see the benefits of defining themselves by niche programs, or centers of excellence.

But where do you begin? What is needed to develop a Spine Center of Excellence? In this 4-part series, we explore the benefits of Spine Centers, examine the fundamentals of how to develop such a program and give a detailed overview of how to implement and market a Spine Center.

Part 1: Making the Case for Spine Centers of Excellence examines the rational for developing a Spine Center by exploring the economic burdens imposed on both patients and physicians by the current state of spinal health care and how the emergence of the multi-disciplinary care model can alleviate these burdens.

Part 2: Development of the Business Model follows the first phase of the milestones chart seen above and discusses how to develop a business model for the Center along with legal factors and potential structures of ownership.

Part 3: Administration and Logistics follows phases 2-5 on the milestones chart and takes you step-by-step through these essential phases.

Part 4: Marketing covers the final phase on the milestones chart by discussing the fundamentals of marketing a Spine Center of Excellence with detailed, practical tips and best practices. There has never been a more opportune time for spine, neurosurgical, orthopedic, and pain specialists to unite under an integrated delivery system for the delivery of state-of-the-art operative and non-operative spine care. This series will show you how.

milestones chart

Milestones Chart

Updated on: 02/11/16
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Making the Case for Spine Centers of Excellence

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