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Practical Innovation and Looking Ahead to the 2018 Lake Nona Impact Forum

By Roger Cary, President and CEO, Laser Spine Institute

This week, I am honored to join more than 250 of the brightest minds from around the world in health care, business, government and academics at the Lake Nona Impact Forum – a three-day, summit-style event that showcases some of the innovative solutions that are creating healthier communities and enabling a better quality of life for everyone.

This year’s event once again assembles thinkers like Deepak Chopra, along with vantage points from FDA Commissioners and VA Secretaries on the public health realities, visionary research and clinical institutions like Mayo Clinic, and influential voices in the public health conversation like Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Oz. Together, these thought leaders are finding ways to deliver tomorrow’s health care today. While it’s humbling to be included both as an individual and on behalf of Laser Spine Institute, I find myself as equally energized by the themes of this year’s program as I am with the prestigious panel of speakers and other invitees.

Past Forums have looked primarily at how futurism and technology can power the innovation the health care industry and patients around the country in its care are so desperately clamoring for. But this year’s overarching themes – like How and What We Eat, How We Move: Exercise as Medicine, Where We Live and Work, Getting Serious About Prevention to Drive Cost Down, and Sleep: Luxury or Essential Ingredient of Health, to name a few – are refreshingly grounded in the achievable and practical.

I believe taking a closer look at the everyday behavior we all tend to take for granted as well as the smaller, incremental steps providers and patients can take now, can have long-term impacts on our overall health. This innovative thinking is what I’m most looking forward to learning about and discussing at this year’s event.

Over the course of my career in health care that has spanned more than 30 years, I’ve seen practical innovation have as much of an impact in helping patients lead longer and healthier lives as I’ve noticed from big ideas and ‘moonshots.’ It’s no secret the pace of change across the health care industry leaves fellow leaders in a challenging predicament, but in response to the dynamics of the health care business today, some organizations have chosen to focus on efficiency measures and operational changes that better ensure their long-term business survival over the best interests of the patients they serve. And believe me, patients sitting in exam and operating rooms around the country have absolutely noticed the difference.

Keeping a patient’s needs at the center of every clinical and operational decision we make at Laser Spine Institute has been one of the driving forces behind our conscious growth of non-surgical, conservative care options over the course of the past year. In fact, the way we deliver care today stands in stark contrast to the organization we were in 2005 – with three doctors, one operating room and only nine employees.

Although advances in minimally-invasive surgery over the last 20 years, especially in an outpatient setting, essentially created the need and opportunity for companies like Laser Spine Institute to develop an alternative option to the inpatient, hospital surgery for neck and back pain, historically only about 5 percent of the potential patients that entered into serious conversations with us ended up being scheduled for surgery. We were simply unable to help almost 95% of the individuals that reached out to us looking for answers for their debilitating neck and back pain. We referred them back to often-overlooked conservative care options because that was the most effective course of treatment in those patients’ cases. Not surgery.

In order to uphold our promise to patients by keeping their needs at the center of every decision we make, Laser Spine Institute has been taking a long and hard look at how we can evolve our delivery of care to the patients we serve around the country – even if it means offering our own alternatives to minimally invasive surgery, the very clinical innovation that sparked our founding in the first place.

As I’ve learned over the course of my career, the most innovative ideas often come from better – not necessarily newer – thinking, which is what I hope to learn more about at the Lake Nona Impact Forum this week. Stay tuned for my post-event reflections in a separate post.