From the onset of COVID-19, changes were made to various facets of healthcare systems, including the Spine Surgery industry. Many of these changes were adopted in a reactionary manner, in order to protect those at risk.
However, it has become evident that some of these changes bear issues that must be addressed to ensure optimal patient and health care system outcomes. Articles published in Clinical Spine Surgery and The Spine Journal have provided some insight into how these issues can be addressed within the Spinal Surgery industry.
Adapting to the New Normal
As many spine surgeries are considered to be “elective,” the majority of the procedures have been postponed. However, delaying certain surgeries can have significant negative consequences, as a patient’s condition can worsen while waiting for surgery, and their postoperative outcome may also suffer as a result. Although some spinal operations are clearly necessary to complete immediately, others remain more ambiguous, and further guidelines would provide more clarity for clinicians and patients.
Each surgical intervention should be reviewed and agreed upon by multiple members of a hospital’s spine department. Interventions should be reviewed weekly. Hospitals should provide daily updates on their status, to support accurate and up-to-date assessments of the feasibility of surgical procedures. Members of a hospital’s spine department should assess the potential risks of postponing surgery before delaying it and consider the fact that postponed surgery may not occur for several months.
Alternatives should be considered for essential spine surgeries, in order to promote hospital bed availability and reduce the invasiveness of procedures. To further support bed availability, hospital staff should attempt to reduce hospital stay after essential spine surgeries by placing extra emphasis on rehabilitation and pain management.
Increased Use of Telemedicine
The ongoing pandemic has also encouraged the use of telemedicine and catalyzed its widespread adoption. This practice carries numerous benefits, including maximizing hospital bed availability for patients in severe conditions, and the ability to provide care for patients who may remain in the comfort of their own home.
However, some aspects of the use of telemedicine are problematic and must be addressed. Online communication between patient and health care worker introduces new ethical concerns, as the confidentiality of shared information is at risk, even when security measures are taken. The process through which this information is stored and shared must become more highly regulated, to protect patients as telemedicine continues to be used.
Additionally, telemedicine should continually be adopted for patients who do not meet the criteria for urgent intervention, which will improve issues such as wait times in clinical settings. However, billing should be updated to reflect the different services provided to patients through telemedicine practices compared to in-person visits.
The COVID19 pandemic has caused a major disruption in the Spinal Surgery industry. As healthcare practitioners navigate the new normal, a number of issues arise in regard to the future of the health care systems. Addressing the principal issues regarding non-essential surgeries and telemedicine practices will aid the industry in effectively bouncing back from the pandemic.
For Further Information
This recent development presents interesting implications for the future of the spinal device market. iData Research’s report titled Spinal Implants Market Analysis, Size, Trends | Global | 2019-2025 | MedSuite contains a detailed global (25-country) market analysis, including in-depth interviews and procedural volumes.