Editor's Column: Please Come to Boston

By William Sullivan posted 10-11-2016 03:16 PM


I drive...a lot! As a native Detroiter, I recently got a new Ford pickup. Earlier this month at its one-year “anniversary,” I realized I put nearly 28,000 miles on it this year. This included a trip to Montana in early summer (a rock climbing competition for my kids) as well as our annual drive to Michigan. We also did Phoenix for spring break which included stopping at Flagstaff (including outdoor bouldering) and Santa Fe. Add work and regular trips to the mountains, and it is clear, I drive...a lot!

One of the benefits of so much time spent driving is I also listen to a lot of music. I hope I'm not bumming anyone out by getting lyrics from a 1974 easy listening favorite stuck in your head. But it is nice to have a lot of music options with satellite radio. Sometimes it's fascinating when my kids (now 16 and 14) will sing along to a song, and I have to ask, “How do you know this song?” to which the reply is usually something like, “Duh Dad, we’ve heard this before!”

But the point of the title is not to talk music and not to plug digital music or satellite radio. This edition of SpineLine, and especially the digital edition, publishes before the upcoming annual meeting, which will be held in Boston on October 26-29. If you haven't yet made plans to attend, you still have time. This year’s program looks to be an absolute winner, and the other sights and sounds of Boston are sure to provide an additional draw. Be sure to visit the SpineLine booth to provide your opinions and for a chance to win something nice.

Among the top Boston NASS meeting highlights will be President Christopher Bono, MD, delivering his presidential address in his current hometown. This edition of SpineLine includes his last From the Desk of the President column titled, “Paint Splatter and Clinical Trials.” His columns have been thoughtful and provocative, and I am sure his address will be the same. I am looking forward to it.

We were pleased to receive so many submissions for this edition’s Current Concepts section. An article from colleagues in Denver (Drs. Wong, Smith and Pepper) for Spine and Sports is a review on “Common Cervical Spine Disorders and their Mechanisms.” We like publishing these articles to provide a review on common conditions related to sports and spine. Drs. Craig and Buchalter provide an Invited Review on “Aspirin and Spine Surgery.” This is another in a series of articles related to the internal medicine perspective on issues related to spine care.

Dr. Jerome Schofferman provides a fascinating article on “Physician Burnout” in the Ethics article. Burnout has received a lot of attention, with many articles circulating in the lay press as well as other medical journals. While there is likely burnout in many professions, it is interesting to have this documented for physicians in general and specifically for spine providers. The numbers are still surprising to me.

This edition's Value in Spine Care asks “Are Current Spinal Fusion Hospital Payment DRGs Adequate?” I encourage you not to skip this article thinking you may already know the answer (No!). Finally in this section, Dr. Alok Sharon provides a contribution to his ongoing Health Care Management Series. “The Value Playbook: Disrupting Your Business Model” provides additional information on the changing models of reimbursement related to value for health care services provided.

Our Socioeconomics & Politics section features additional interesting information on important topics. In Coding Q&A, Dale Blasier, MD, summarizes the results of a survey related to ICD-10 implementation. I know ICD-10 was personally disruptive, and for some reason, I can’t get most of the old ICD-9 codes out of my head (eg, 724.02, spinal stenosis without neurogenic claudication). I know physicians throughout medicine continue to struggle with finding correct codes, even with EMR lookups.

Regulatory Policy provides information on the "2017 Medicare Final Rule for Outpatient and Surgery Center Payments" by Allison Waxler, MS.
And finally in this section, Advocacy Chair, John Finkenberg, MD and NASS Staff, Jordan Abushawish, provide a look at how Republicans in Congress may change their approach to the Affordable Care Act after the coming elections.

NASS News includes several features, many of which relate to the annual meeting. Be sure also to read "From Locker Room to Operating Room: A Lion's Trek," an interesting profile of Detroit Lions offensive lineman, Laken Tomlinson, who's planning to pursue neurosurgery after the NFL. He spent time shadowing neurosurgeon and NASS member, Carlos Bagley, MD—a former Duke linebacker—while performing surgeries at Duke.

Also, we remember long-time NASS member, James W. Simmons, MD, of San Antonio, TX.

I will close with a special thank you to all of the contributors, section editors, and especially NASS Staff for their dedication in providing another edition of SpineLine.  As always, we are receptive to any comments or suggestions that will help make a difference. And Please Come To Boston....

*This column originally appeared in the September/October 2016 edition of SpineLine. Click here to read more articles in the issue.