MedSolutions, a provider of medical services, announced the launch of its Lumbar Spine Surgery Management Programme for ensuring the clinical appropriateness of spine surgery for individuals suffering from lower back pain, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, trauma, infections and degenerative disc disease.
America’s payers spend US $18.8 billion a year to treat low back pain with lumbar spinal fusion surgery, according to an analysis conducted by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Despite its growing popularity, recent studies have suggested spinal fusion surgery can produce poor outcomes and may be unnecessarily prescribed for many patients. A study published by Richard A Deyo, et al in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in April 2010, shows that Medicare older patients with spinal stenosis who underwent complex fusion were nearly three-times more likely to have life-threatening complications than patients who had decompression, a less invasive procedure.
“Unfortunately, there is a lack of convincing evidence that surgery produces better outcomes than non-surgical management. However, financial incentives and lack of awareness of alternative treatment paths continue to drive inappropriate spinal fusion surgeries,” said Gregg Allen, chief medical officer of MedSolutions. “There also is a trend toward increased complexity and multiple levels of fusion, which doubles the likelihood of complications.”
In response to these issues, MedSolutions created its Lumbar Spine Surgery Management Programme. The solution offers evidence-based guidelines to determine whether surgery is clinically appropriate. The programme also protects members from risks and complications such as infection, bleeding, blood clots, nerve damage and recurring pain that can result in additional procedures, extended recovery times, missed work, opiate use and disabilities.
“By determining whether spinal fusion is necessary and directing patients to the most appropriate physicians and facilities, our programme helps improve health outcomes while reducing unnecessary costs by an estimated 20%,” Allen commented.