This year the 9th Annual Spine Symposium will be held at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California from June 21 thru June 23rd. My, my, my how time flies. It was only yesterday that many of us were standing at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach, Florida. Back then, this meeting was called the Spine Study Group. From there, it went to Cabo Wabo and now as the young bucks of the industry transition and approach their golden years, a kinder and gentler environment will play host to who's who of the spine world.
This years meeting with be emceed by Frank Phillips, Todd Albert and Alex Vaccaro. There will be some interesting topics, and as in the past, this meeting can bring poignant discussions to the forefront in the spine industry. In retrospect, spine surgeons no longer discuss clinical issues and outcomes, today, they are concerned about the way they are being perceived by the public on many fronts including; by their peers, by the patients, by the insurance companies, by the people that pay them consulting fees, by the FDA, by sales people, and the Federal Government. Every company in the industry should attend and support a forum that openly discusses the pro's and con's of various modality of treatments. Who knows maybe some of the wannabe start-ups and their surgeon advisors may learn a few things by attending. There will be a few "hot" topics that will be discussed.
One of the debates will be; "Is BMP safe and effective for lumbar fusion?" As many of you know, it's not a question whether BMP is safe and efficacious, it is a question of how far do surgeons push the envelope in their use of BMP's? Will there be an honest discourse regarding the many complications that have occurred as a by product of sloppy surgical technique and applicability of this pharmaceutical resulting in a public backlash for InFuse and Medtronic? Contrary to public scrutiny, if used judiciously, BMP has provided tremendous results for many patients, especially those that have associated medical problems, had a history of substance abuse, or were military personnel. It will be of interesting to hear the critique of this product.
Another interesting topic will be "Docs Unite, Standing Up to the Insurance Industry." Will NASS, AANS, CNS, and AAOS just keep pumping more money into fruitless lobbying efforts against the insurance industry? Until insurance companies are not exempt from Anti-Trust Laws, the beat will go on. Since health insurers are exempt from ATL's, they can determine what one will receive and what they will charge for healthcare. Collusion is a violation of anti-competitive behavior. It will be interesting to assess whether the who's who of spine surgery support the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act which would repeal the federal anti-trust exemption for insurance companies who flagrantly violate anti-trust laws by price fixing and bid rigging, or whether as usual they will place blame on some other helpless third party for what has become a gravely ill U.S. healthcare system.
The most intriguing topic will be "The Changing Economics for Spine," moderated by non other than Nashville's own Thomas Gallagher of PDP Holdings, LLC. Mr. Gallagher will talk about "Who will Control Your Patients Budget?" This should provide the attendees with some insight into the climate and concerns regarding various business models and how they will affect the industry and how business will done. Could I hear, implant vendor machines, more POD's, or PDP's? So hang on to your seats, you'll be in for an interesting ride, polish up you golf game and get those tennis whites out. California here we come! TSB wants to know, are you attending or pretending?