US spine care providers have a brand new tool to measure and improve patient care: a diagnosis-based clinical data registry that tracks patient care and outcomes. Launched by the North American Spine Society (NASS), this web-based platform will allow health care providers to collect and analyse their spine care data and compare it to the de-identified data in the entire registry. Because it is diagnosis-specific, not procedure-specific, the NASS Spine Registry will enhance understanding of spine care treatments, their outcomes, and examine the natural history of spine disorders.
“In order to prove or disprove the effectiveness of spine treatments, the spine field needs to gather evidence,” says Zoher Ghogawala (Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington, USA), NASS research council director. “With its national reach and comprehensive nature, the NASS Spine Registry will help the spine care field make substantial progress on improving quality, developing best practices, and closing the gaps in medical evidence for spine care.”
From the initial idea to the implementation of a pilot program, the NASS Spine Registry was developed over the past eight years. NASS has made every effort to minimise potential barriers to participation, including cost, privacy concerns, administrative burden, and institutional review board (IRB) participation, a press release states.
“The really exciting and unique thing about the NASS registry is that it is multidisciplinary,” says Daniel Resnick (University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA), NASS president and chair of the NASS Registry Committee. “Despite the fact that more than 90% of spine care is managed without surgery, most existing registries are focused around surgical specialties or procedures. Thanks to the comprehensive nature of this registry, we will be able to see what care approaches are actually helping patients restore their function and reduce pain.”
Any spinal care provider, including physicians or allied health professionals, regardless of specialty, setting, or medical/surgical orientation, can participate in the NASS Registry. There is no software to purchase, no dedicated coordinator required, and participants do not need to be NASS members. For the first participant per practice site, registry is US$3,250. NASS states that registry participation is therefore “affordable for all practice types and sizes―from the largest health systems to solo practitioners.” Each subsequent participant per practice is $300 for a year.
Registry participants will receive confidential feedback on their patient care and will have access to reports with benchmarking against their peers through the de-identified, aggregate data. They will be able to download real-time reports at their convenience to see results. The data collected include demographics, diagnosis, treatment, complications, and patient-reported outcomes. The data are de-identified at the point of entry and no personal information reaches NASS or its data vendor, Ortech Systems. Each participant owns its own data and NASS owns the aggregate, de-identified data.
“One great thing about this registry design is that it requires the active participation of the most important people in health care, our patients,” Resnick comments. “Each time a patient enters their data, they will be able to see how they are progressing over time. There will also be links to helpful education information for them to use.”
In its initial phase, the registry will be focused on capturing data on US patients over 18 years of age who are being treated for lumbar spine conditions, including: low back pain, lumbar disc herniation, lumbar radiculopathy, lumbar facet syndrome, lumbar spondylolisthesis, lumbar scoliosis, lumbar instability, and lumbar stenosis.