FRANKLIN, Tenn., July 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- MedSolutions, a leading provider of medical management services, today announced the launch of its Lumbar Spine Surgery Management Program for ensuring the clinical appropriateness of spine surgery for individuals suffering from lower back pain, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, trauma, infections and degenerative disc disease.
It has been estimated that up to 80 percent of the population experiences low back pain during their lifetime, making it the second most common reason for doctor's visits.(1) According to an analysis conducted by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, America's payors spend $18.8 billion(2) a year to treat low back pain with lumbar spinal fusion surgery, a procedure that immobilizes painful vertebrae by fusing one or more of the bones.
Despite its growing popularity, recent studies have suggested spinal fusion surgery can produce poor outcomes and may be unnecessarily prescribed for many patients. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Medicare patients with spinal stenosis who underwent complex fusion, a procedure in which two or more vertebrae were fused, were nearly three-times more likely to have life-threatening complications than patients who had a less invasive procedure known as decompression.(3)
Another study showed that patients who had spinal fusion surgery were less likely to return to work within two years after their surgery than patients with similar conditions who did not have surgery. Their rate of permanent disability was more than five times higher and their daily intake of powerful narcotic painkillers increased by 41 percent after surgery. Furthermore, 27 percent of the patients studied underwent repeat surgeries.(4)
"Unfortunately, there is a lack of convincing evidence that surgery produces better outcomes than non-surgical management. However, financial incentives and lack of awareness of alternative treatment paths continue to drive inappropriate spinal fusion surgeries," said Gregg Allen, M.D., chief medical officer of MedSolutions. "There also is a trend toward increased complexity and multiple levels of fusion, which doubles the likelihood of complications."
In response to these issues, MedSolutions created its Lumbar Spine Surgery Management Program. The solution offers evidence-based guidelines to determine whether surgery is clinically appropriate. The program also protects members from risks and complications such as infection, bleeding, blood clots, nerve damage and recurring pain that can result in additional procedures, extended recovery times, missed work, opiate use and disabilities.
"By determining whether spinal fusion is necessary and directing patients to the most appropriate physicians and facilities, our program helps improve health outcomes while reducing unnecessary costs by an estimated 20 percent," Dr. Allen said.
Using independently validated savings methodologies, MedSolutions specializes in quality-driven intelligent cost management of medical services for commercial, Medicare and Medicaid payors. The company maintains management contracts for more than 33 million individuals nationwide. Using robust data, predictive intelligence technology and evidence-based clinical expertise, the company's innovative solutions extend beyond Radiology Management to other areas of medical specialty, including Oncology, Cardiac Imaging, Sleep, Ultrasound, Lumbar Spine Surgery, and MedSolutions' groundbreaking Premerus® Diagnostic Accuracy program – the nation's first solution for reducing diagnostic error rates to improve the quality and cost of care. MedSolutions has been recognized for outstanding customer service and effective call center management by the International Customer Management Institute and for four consecutive years by the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Award. Visit www.medsolutions.com.
Contact: Rebecca Kirkham
Lovell Communications Inc.
(2) 1999 & 2008 HCUP Data: Spinal Fusion Surgeries
(3) "Top Spine Surgeons Reap Royalties, Medicare Bounty" December 20, 2010 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703395204576024023361023138.html?mod=ITP_pageone_0
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Gregg P. Allen, M.D.
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