Through insurance company denials and staffing shortages, 1 surgeon found the bright side

Lauren Matteini, MD, serves as a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon at Geneva, Ill.-based Fox Valley Orthopedics.

Dr. Matteini will serve on the panel "Minimally Invasive Complex Spine: Big Trends and Concepts" at Becker's 19th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place in Chicago from June 16-18. 

To learn more and register, click here.

Question: What issues are you spending most of your time on today?

Dr. Lauren Matteini: Like many physicians, we've had challenges with insurance company denials and reimbursement issues. Many insurance companies are issuing denials or putting up roadblocks to getting patients the care we as physicians deem appropriate. That requires that we fight those denials, submitting more and more evidence supporting the suggested treatment or procedure. The second most significant, if not more so than the insurance issue, is that the healthcare industry has become increasingly understaffed. Patients are sometimes waiting longer to be seen; phone calls can take longer to get returned, and so forth. We're striving daily to ensure our clinical and admin team has everything they need to do their absolute best when it comes to caring for our patients — it's a constant juggling act for all involved. 

Q: What are your top challenges and how will they change over the next 12 months?

LM: I hope to see more people entering the healthcare job market — it's a genuinely rewarding job, especially working with the right practice and team. I'd also like to see insurance companies returning to the business of insurance rather than attempting to function as proxy physicians. 

Q: How are you thinking about investments and growth in the next two years? 

LM: We're working to grow as an organization. We're hiring staff, of course, but we're also investing in other ways to make sure we can offer our patients a full spectrum of care. We're expanding our practice to include physical therapy and urgent care options in each office. Our offices themselves are growing to accommodate more docs, expand our specialties, and offer our patients a wider field that includes some preventive care options — helping patients optimize their physical health before they need our skills as surgeons. 

Q: What are you most excited about right now?  

LM: I'm excited for my patients. I get excited for their outcomes, like when lifelong pain is resolved or their fracture is taken care of. As I said before, healthcare is rewarding, but it's not easy. I find my sense of purpose and happy place in my patients and their day-to-day victories. 

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