The TRUE definition of quality is reduction of variation about the mean. As quality experts note, unless you have data, you have no business talking about quality. The focus of Maine Spinecare is on improving care for back and neck patients. We track our outcomes and patient satisfaction. Maine Spinecare uses written protocols that emphasize a nonsurgical approach first, and surgery is held as the last resort. Maine Spinecare was one of the first spine centers in the State of Maine to track and publish a Clinical Outcome Report Card for health insurance companies that documents use of pills, patient satisfaction, and return to function.
New patients coming into Maine Spinecare complete an intake form that measures their pain level, severity of symptoms and functional status. Three months after their first visit, a nurse calls a random sample of these patients and interview them for functional status, current symptoms and patient satisfaction. This is the most unbiased, statistically relevant method for outcomes analysis.
The clinical outcomes are then analyzed by an outside firm that specializes in tracking spine outcomes, and is involved with other spine centers across the U.S. The following is the type of information that will be measured and published about Maine Spinecare in the future.
Unlike most providers of back and neck pain, a spine center typically receives the most complex patients. One in five new patients coming to Maine Spinecare had previous back surgery elsewhere. Additionally, 68% of new patients referred into the spine center have red flag symptoms like numbness into a leg or arm, which implies disc-related symptoms, rather than simple acute back or neck strain. This severity of new patients presents a challenge for a spine center. Still, the spine center emphasized non-surgical options first, holding surgery as the last resort. As to patient satisfaction, 92% were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the time the doctor spent with them.
Quality is a journey, however, rather than a destination, and we are committed to continually improving. This report documents our footprints on that journey. Below is Maine Spinecare’s Clinical Outcome Report Card for the year 2015.