Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Affordable Care Act Leads to Innovation

Boutique Medicine Practice Launched at Texas Back Institute

The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by the United States Congress and the verification of its constitutionality by the U.S. Supreme Court represent the biggest change in the country’s healthcare system in the past 50 years. This massive overhaul affects every citizen and will fundamentally change the methods by which physicians such as those at Texas Back Institute care for patients.

While there is considerable disagreement among those who favor the mandates of the ACA and those who don’t, one fact is indisputable. The stipulations of this federal statute became effective on January 1, 2014, and the delivery of patient care – whether it’s primary care or specialized care, such as spine surgery – will never be the same again.

The Confusing Facts about Affordable Care

There has been a plethora of information about the objectives of the ACA and even more about the likelihood of these being met. Proponents of ACA note the goals of the statute include increasing the quality and affordability of health insurance, lowering the uninsured rate by expanding the public and private insurance coverage and reducing the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government.

Opponents of this ambitious program disagree with the statute’s mandate for universal insurance coverage and find the promise of increasing the quality and affordability of this insurance dubious. They simply point to rate increases experienced by thousands of citizens as a result of the new requirements of ACA as the proof for this.

There is one fact that both groups can agree on. With the mandates for universal insurance coverage, subsidies for those who can’t afford this coverage and the prohibition against rate increases based on pre-existing medical conditions, there will be millions of new patients in the waiting rooms of physicians throughout the United States in 2014. In fact, some healthcare experts feel the number of physicians and nurses is inadequate to provide service to these new patients, whether they have insurance or not.

This situation presents a serious challenge to the spine specialists at Texas Back Institute. However, the old adage which holds that “necessity is the mother of invention” is appropriate for several of the physicians who have decided to offer a shelter in the ACA storm to a limited number of patients in the form of a new boutique practice.

The Vision of Boutique Medicine

“Spine surgery is highly specialized medicine,” noted Dr. Scott Blumenthal in a recent discussion.  At the Texas Back Institute, all our surgeons are highly skilled, do extensive research, track their outcomes and have superior surgical results.

However, “It’s a challenge to keep up with the changes and advances in this area of medicine and we’re worried about having the time to give our patients the care they expect and deserve. Because of this, several of us at Texas Back Institute have decided to offer our specialized service to a limited number of patients,” he said. “Additionally, more and more patients are looking for other personalized services from their provider, which this program will provide.”

While the effects of the ACA have encouraged the adoption of boutique medicine, the trend toward this type of medicine has been growing for many years. As for a quick definition of “boutique medicine,” Dr. Blumenthal notes that there is no universal agreement on just what this type of healthcare includes.

“We prefer to think of it as our vision, rather than a hard-and-fast definition,” he said.

“Our boutique practice will allow patients to have immediate access to our expertise. This will mean less waiting and 24/7 access to a team of care-giving specialists. We have made the commitment to build this team to meet the needs of someone who is looking for a high level of medical and personal care.”

Is This a Trend in Medicine?

Offering specialized medical care – in this case spine surgery – without asking for approval from health insurance companies is at the very least highly innovative. Dr. Blumenthal notes, “It’s actually inevitable.”

“The economic pressures on health insurance companies are forcing these companies to marginalize diagnoses and in spinal medicine these diagnoses are critical,” he noted.

“Keeping up with the constant change in procedures in spine surgery and treatment requires a great deal of time and resources. Additionally, patients now request personal services such as making hotel and travel arrangements, the ability to see a physician in off hours, and access to telemedicine visits when appropriate. We have built a boutique medicine team to help respond to the request of patients who are looking for these personalized services. This team is responsive to our patients 24/7.

Dr. Blumenthal along with 2 other Texas Back Institute physicians has launched a boutique medicine practice within TBI to serve a limited number of patients. If you would like more information on this service, please click here or call 800.247.2225.

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