The World Pediatric Project coordinates and mobilizes surgical, diagnostic, and medical specialty teams to provide treatment for young people in countries where advanced pediatric care is unavailable to children in need. I was lucky to be invited on a mission trip to Honduras as part of this program. It was an incredible experience, one that I will l never forget.
The ABRET Neurodiagnostic Credentialing and Accreditation Board has recognized SpecialtyCare’s Intraoperative Neuromonitoring (IONM) Training Program with formal Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring program status. This makes SpecialtyCare one of only two training programs, and the sole clinical services provider, to achieve this recognition. With approval as a recognized program, our surgical neurophysiology trainees gain Pathway IV eligibility for ABRET’s Certification in Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Neuromonitoring (CNIM) testing.
PENCIL is a terrific organization that helps Metro Nashville Public School students achieve academic and future success. As a proud PENCIL Partner, SpecialtyCare regularly hosts students from Hillsboro High School’s Academy of Global Health & Science. Our fully equipped simulation operating room, or Sim OR, which is used to train our staff, provides the perfect environment to introduce the students to life as a member of a surgical team. Our Nashville IONM Operational Leadership and the IONM Education Team have designed an elite experience for the students to actively learn about electrophysiology and participate in a virtual surgical procedure that utilizes intraoperative neuromonitoring to assist the surgeon and keep the patient safe during surgery.
“We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.” This quote comes from the recent interim report by the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Since 1999, the number of opioid overdoses in the U.S. has quadrupled. Over that same period, the amount of prescription opioids sold has quadrupled as well. With a substantial portion of the population experiencing chronic pain and more than 650,000 prescriptions dispensed every day, the medical profession must employ every available strategy to address the tragic human and economic costs of opioid misuse, abuse, and dependence. One such tactic is to avoid the need for prescription opioids in the first place, or to limit a patient’s pain management need to a very short duration.
The evolution from a wide-eyed trainee to a professional surgical neurophysiologist capable of supporting surgeons in the most complex procedures is a metamorphosis that is truly awesome and, with every graduating class, I’m reminded of the tremendous group effort behind the scenes. Our clinical instructors, medical office staff, senior surgical neurophysiologists, remote monitoring professionals, and operations leaders provide support and guidance every step of the way. This spirit of teamwork not only makes the training program successful, it also makes the goals of clinical excellence, continuous improvement, and patient-centered care achievable. I am thrilled to be part of such a group and I cannot wait to see our newest team members grow into the next SpecialtyCare IONM mentors and leaders.
Illegal referrals and inaccurate billing are often inadvertent, but can be part of deliberate and deceptive moneymaking schemes when physicians and other clinicians have ownership in outsourced providers for hospitals. Whether intentional or not, there is an ongoing pattern of regulatory compliance violations relating to the False Claims Act, the Stark Law, and the Anti-Kickback Statute. Headlines continue to regularly highlight fraudulent billing and illegal referrals that pose tremendous risk to hospitals, providers, and patients. Even alleged violations and pre-trial indictments can be costly given that regulatory agencies are authorized to suspend federal payments to providers under investigation.
In the fall of 2016, David Citarrella, SpecialtyCare’s Director of Operations for Intraoperative Neuromonitoring (IONM) in California and Nevada, let me know that an orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco planned to travel to the Republic of Moldova in Eastern Europe on a humanitarian mission. The surgeon, Dr. Dimitriy Kondrashov, had inquired about the use of IONM equipment to monitor spinal procedures during his trip. My first thought was, “What is he going to do with this equipment? It’s not like you just press one button to turn it on, then get a green light if all is good, or a red light if there is a problem.” I reached out directly to Dr. Kondrashov to see if I could help.
Scientists have been fascinated with the workings of the human nervous system dating back to the time of Hippocrates and well before. Today, as members of the healthcare community gain a greater understanding of the system—how to treat its disorders and protect its integrity—interest in the topic continues to grow. The American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (ACNS) has been a leader in education and training for the past 70 years, and its recent annual meeting continued this tradition. SpecialtyCare was pleased to present two new research studies at the event to advance the community’s understanding of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) and its impact on patient health and safety.
The American Society of Neurophysiological Monitoring (ASNM) is “dedicated to the advancement of quality neurophysiologic monitoring services for neuroprotection.” Stated more simply, it’s all about patient safety. SpecialtyCare is deeply committed to supporting the Society and its mission to grow the profession, provide educational forums, develop quality standards, and build partnerships with allied healthcare professionals. As part of this commitment, members of our team serve in leadership roles with the ASNM and recently contributed several presentations at the organization’s Annual Meeting in May, an event celebrating 40 years of neuromonitoring.
We all want the best quality for the best value, but it’s often difficult to evaluate our options accordingly. Hospitals that are exploring outsourced intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) options obviously want to know what they’re paying, which can be difficult when different vendors present different pricing models and different services. It can be like comparing apples to oranges to strawberries. They’re all fruit, but clearly not the same. Here are some quick tips for evaluating outsourced IONM services, taken from our new guide, The Real Spend of Your IONM Program: Eight Tips to Discover the True Value.