Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No, Dr. Hey did not fall off face of the earth.... I've been doing research, and still caring for patients!

Well, the last month has been a real whirl-wind, caring for many children, adolescents and adults with all sorts of scoliosis, kyphosis, spondylolisthesis... disc herniations as big as New Jersey... and on top of that my nights and weekends have been spent helping get 3 research projects done for our big Scoliosis Research Society ( meeting this September.  Abstract deadline was Feb 1, and I, along with all of my SRS colleagues serving on the Adult Deformity Committee were hard at work up til the last day!

The first paper is a survey we conducted of scoliosis surgeons from all over the world, examining their concerns about the cost of scoliosis care, and what role we can play to help control those costs, pushing our part of healthcare closer to "lean production"  --- high-quality with little or no WASTE!  Quality control is definitely a passion of mine, and has been for over 25 years, following and practicing the writings of Deming and others -- -most of whom "wrote off" healthcare as hopeless as Deming did in "Out of the Crisis."  Well, "hopeless" is not an acceptable answer when we are dealing with precious human lives in healthcare, and where suffering can be prevented and alleviated.  But how do create more sustainable systems of care so that access is not limited, not just in the USA but all over the world?

Well, we got surveys back from 196 SRS scoliosis surgeons from over 35 countries, and it was quite amazing to see how my colleagues from around the world share the concerns I've had, and are interested in doing more to help be better "Stewards" of our limited resources.  It is our job as Good Stewards working with hospitals, vendors, and others to help ensure that excellent scoliosis care is accessible and affordable for patients of all ages in need.

Our other 2 abstracts focus on proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and proximal junctional failure (PJF)  -- which is a potential complication with scoliosis or more likely kyphosis surgery.  We conducted another survey of surgeons to try to pull out "best practices" from surgeons also from all over the world, and will be using this information combined with a major total literature review to start to come up with new classifications and practice guidelines to help surgeons prevent and treat this potentially serious complication.  I know in my own practice over the last 18+ years, I've developed a bunch of new innovations, including some new sublaminar techniques using advanced fiber technology combined with more flexible rods.  These innovations have drastically reduced the incidence of PJK/PJF.  So why not figure out ways to have more experienced / more engineering-oriented surgeons to share their "tricks" with the "younger guns" and speed up that learning curve with checklists, guidelines, and special tips!!  All very cool stuff.

It has been awesome to work with like-minded SRS surgeons from literally all over the globe, including 18 different time zones!!! Makes conference calls a bit tricky.... but it is all good.  Teamwork always brings better results, with different perspectives an insights.

Meanwhile, I've kept myself firmly grounded in the "real world" of the operating room 4 days a week, and clinic 5 days a week, and rounding on my patients 7 days a week, where the outcome is always worth it:  smiles and hugs.

Here's some recent pictures and video to enjoy.  All of these were taken during the last couple of weeks!!!!  

More later.  Time for bed.  Big scoliosis surgery tomorrow.
Dr. Lloyd Hey -- Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery --

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