The goal of an integrated spine clinic is to bring together many of the different spine specialists to work collaboratively in one clinic. For example, it is becoming more common for orthopedic spine surgeons to work with neurosurgeons, invasive physiatrists to work with anesthesiologists and neuroradiologists in a pain clinic and chiropractors to work with physical therapists.
Benefits of Integrated Back Pain Treatment
Ideally, the integration of spine care provides several benefits for the patient and back pain treatment:
- Focus on the patient. Although each spine center has its own configuration and available specialists, the one common theme is cooperation and coordination of care for the back pain patient. Different specialties working together in the same practice can help keep the focus where it belongs - on the patient and quality of back treatment - and minimizes competitive friction between the specialties and/or different clinics over "turf" issues.
- Higher quality of care. The theory is that the benefits of enhanced communication between spine specialists also extend to enhanced quality of care. For example, specialists from different disciplines working together helps all of the doctors in the clinic keep up with the advances in diagnosis and treatment techniques and technologies in the various specialties.
- Appropriate referrals. Ideally, in an integrated spine clinic the specialists are more confident and skilled at appropriately referring their patients. For example, if a patient has not responded to chiropractic care, he or she may be referred to the interventional pain management specialist or surgeon in the clinic. Or, if a patient consults a surgeon, but is not a good candidate for surgery, the patient would be referred to a nonsurgical specialist in the clinic. For the patients, appropriate referrals between spine specialists within the clinic should mean that they no longer have to worry if they are seeing the right kind of health care professional.
- Greater convenience for the patient. It is frequently more convenient for patients, as patients can go to one clinic for most or all spine health care needs. By having different spine specialties and therapies all available in the same location, the back pain patient does not have to go through the hassle of finding and registering at multiple locations. Having all the records and films in one integrated spine clinic location also cuts down on the hassle factor of receiving back care in what is often a very confusing and frustrating medical environment.
Integrated spine clinics may take many different forms (such as part of a hospital, or an independent group) and may include a variety of combinations of spine specialists, such as chiropractors, physical therapists, pain specialists, physiatrists, orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons who specialize in spine surgery, and psychologists who specialize in pain treatment.