Payor Reform Opportunities for Spine Surgery: Part I Background and Stimulus for Bundled Payments

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Spine surgery, and orthopedic surgery overall, is being increasingly scrutinized by payors due to large projected increases in utilization. The unsustainability of the fee-for-service payment system has lead payors to investigate novel value and risk-based contracting strategies on an episode of care basis and on a population health basis. These forays into progressive models for spine surgery have been supported by the successes demonstrated by advanced payor reform programs from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in other areas of musculoskeletal medicine. Whether they are focused on lower extremity arthroplasty or spinal surgery, these pressures are forcing hospitals and physicians to align to improve quality and reduce costs through new structures and relationships. However, in many respects spine surgery has been years behind the wave of market pressures seen in other orthopedic subspecialties, such as arthroplasty. As such, the recognition and understanding of the forces and motivations driving the massive pressures responsible for these will better equip the spine surgeon to adapt and ultimately master such transformations.

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