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Spinal fusion 'picking up steam' at ASCs: 2 leaders discuss practice growth

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During Becker's Orthopedic, Spine + ASC Virtual Event on March 18, two industry leaders discussed the migration of spine and orthopedic procedures to surgery centers and how they are looking at growth in 2021.

Click here to view the full interview on-demand and access several other fireside chats, panels and workshops during the event.

Note: Responses are lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What is your outlook for orthopedic and spine practice growth in 2021?

Nader Samii. CEO of National Medical Billing Services (Chesterfield, Mo.): Overall, we're very bullish on orthopedics and spine, rapidly growing specialties, and as it relates to surgery centers, major movement from inpatient to hospital outpatient toward surgery centers. If you take 2018 to 2021, [there has been] 30-plus percent growth in orthopedics in terms of surgery center volume, and spine is about 200 percent. These are two of the faster growing specialties in all of medicine.

We see a lot of movement in big ticket items too. So, it's not just that cases are moving, but you've got dramatic movement in total joints, with the knees going first and now the hips, and Medicare approving both of those now. And on the spine side, spinal fusions are happening in surgery centers. With technology, spinal fusions are being done in a surgery center environment now versus where it used to be. That's a pretty recent initiative. It's really picking up steam and working quite well. There's a lot of trends in terms of the movement of these cases and the high-acuity cases moving into the surgery center, which is all very positive.

Leesa Galatz, MD. Chair of Orthopedics at Mount Sinai Health System (New York City): This pandemic has been difficult on clinical practice. Most of us have been shut down for some period of time, but I think we are going to rebound. Eventually our country will recover from this, as will the rest of the world. I think there's a lot of positives on the horizon. One of the things about a slowdown this past year is it's really given me the opportunity to take a pause and to take a very critical look at our operations, finance and revenue cycle to make sure that we were running as efficiently as possible. It gave me an opportunity to really look at my organization and say, "do I have the right people doing the right jobs?" So, I think a look back has been important.

Even more important, I think if you spend all your time today working on now, you're going to be practicing yesteryear's medicine tomorrow. As technology advances so quickly, this is a really good opportunity to invest in your organization in terms of technology, the people, alternative contract models and the leadership potential of your organization. I think if there's a theme, it would be to invest in the future.

Register today for the 18th Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC + the Future of Spine Conference virtual event June 7-17, 2021.

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