Clinical Outcome Data
The trend in medicine is to explore nonsurgical solutions to various health problems. The same trend is occurring in the area of spine care.
Denver Spine Surgeons uses written protocols that emphasize a nonsurgical approach first, and surgery is held as the last resort.
The TRUE definition of quality is reduction of variation about the mean. As quality experts note, unless you have data, you simply have no business talking about quality. New patients coming into Denver Spine Surgeons completed a clinical outcome tool that measured their pain level, severity of symptoms and functional status. Three months after their first visit, a nurse called a random sample of these patients and interviewed them for functional status, current symptoms and patient satisfaction. This is the most unbiased, statistically relevant method for outcomes analysis.
The clinical outcomes presented here are analyzed by an outside firm that specializes in tracking spine outcomes, and is the most experienced entity nationally in spine center development. The results show that Denver Spine Surgeons receives at its front door the most complex patient base in the region. One in four new patients to Denver Spine Surgeons had previous back surgery, and 72% had suffered from back or neck pain for more than four months. More than one-third of all new patients had serious neurological symptoms like numbness and pain beyond a knee or elbow, which can imply a 89% of simple and chronic patients returned to work. As to patient satisfaction, Denver Spine Surgeons averaged above 99% for all seven categories measured, and 99% were happy with the amount of time the doctor spent with them.
Quality is a journey, however, rather than a destination, and we are committed to continually improving. This report documents our footprints on that journey.
A phone survey is used to audit patient satisfaction. This method is the most accurate survey method possible. That’s because mail surveys have an inherent sampling bias based on those who take the time to respond. Three months after the first visit to Denver Spine Surgeons, a nurse calls a random sample of patients at home. The nurse then interviews patients on their satisfaction with the doctor seen, the time the doctor spends with the patient, the medical explanation provided, etc. Denver Spine Surgeons averaged 99% for all seven categories measured, with 99% of patients saying they would recommend the clinic to a friend.
The main reason people go to the doctor is for relief of pain. But if a spine clinic focuses exclusively on pain, it can miss the target of return to function. A spine specialized physical therapist provides pain relief and then moves the patient quickly into supervised exercise. This chart shows that Denver Spine Surgeons has good success relieving pain, eliminating numbness and radiating pain in legs or arms, and ultimately returning the back pain sufferer to activity — after only three months of care. The gains in function did not come from pills either. For example, the percent of patients relying heavily on pills for pain control declined from 21% to 7% after three months. Self-reported pain levels decreased, as did patient-reported limitations related to carrying groceries, climbing stairs and standing for a half hour.
Denver Spine Surgeons has a detailed clinical outcome report card for physicians, case managers and insurance company medical directors.