The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics represents a regional spine center of excellence for the Rhode Island region.
The criteria for a spine center of excellence can vary and can often be distorted because of financial gain for the entity labeling spine programs. For example, one health insurance company (payor) defines its list of spine centers of excellence based on its desire to REDUCE the number of spine surgeries to lower the cost of treatment. So in this case, it is creating a restrictive network of treatment providers simply for economic benefit. Such a payor, for example, mandates that a person with back or neck pain NOT go to a spine surgeon but rather a non-surgeon who is biased against spine surgery and steers treatment to less expensive, and perhaps less beneficial treatments for a herniated disc. In this case, the payor has distorted the definition of a spine center of excellence and confuses the person looking for a true spine center of excellence. So the consumer must be careful when seeing a payor’s definition of a spine center of excellence.
The core element of a spine center of excellence is that the spine center uses a multi-disciplinary team approach to avoid biased treatment. The spine center should include the following components:
Most medical directors of health insurance plans across the country are concerned with the wide variation in treatment associated with back and neck pain care. Many believe that back surgery is performed too readily and that too many procedures are performed and too many opiods are prescribed for patients which can create long term problems. These are all legitimate concerns that can be addressed by a multi-disciplinary Spine Center of Excellence.
Back pain sufferers can also compound the problem of spine care with a do-it-yourself approach and resort to medicating themselves with over-the-counter painkillers, back braces and magnets in a frustrating quest for pain relief. Depending on where they seek help, treatment could include a barrage of unnecessary or unproductive X-rays, MRIs, pills, ultrasound procedures, ice or heat treatments, surgeries, manipulations, injections and tests.
Another problem is that surgery may be done by surgeons who don’t specialize in spine. This creates a higher risk of failed back surgery syndrome, where the patient ends up in a chronic pain center for perpetuity, undergoing costly procedures. This, unfortunately, is the frustrating scenario associated with back care.
A Spine Center of Excellence facility can include:
The Center for Spine Health represents an effort by University Orthopedics to develop such a spine center of excellence for the benefit of those in the East Coast region.