Spine surgery is steadily moving out of the inpatient setting and into surgery centers thanks to an increase in minimally invasive options, a reduction in costs and sky-high patient satisfaction rates. But it takes a specific set of skills for a surgery center to succeed in the outpatient spine space, according to J. Alex Sielatycki, MD, an orthopedic surgeon for Steamboat Surgery Center (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) who performs roughly 15 spine procedures a week. Here’s what you need to know if you are thinking about adding this growing specialty.
• Enlist expert help. Whether you’re adding spine to an existing service line or starting from scratch, there are going to be many opportunities to lean on experts for advice and help. Take full advantage. That’s just what Andreas Sauerbrey, MD, one of the founders and the current president of Steamboat Orthopaedic and Spine Institute (SOSI) did when Steamboat Surgery Center opened in 2019 in partnership with UCHealth. The guidance paid off in a big way. Instead of building a new facility, the leadership team chose to retrofit an existing building. “There’s always a little bit of compromise when you’re not designing from the ground up, and we got stuck deciding whether we should have two or three operating rooms,” says Dr. Sauerbrey. With limited space to work with, he leaned heavily on his architect for advice on what to do. For instance, the team chose to go with two ORs at around 400 square feet rather than two small ORs and a third even smaller OR, a move that ultimately improved a crucial element of their operations. “It helped us with patient flow, which is so important,” he says.