NASS On Spine

March 06, 2018

Q&A With Sandeep Gidvani, MD

1. What is your hometown and where do you currently live?

My hometown is Fremont, CA and I currently live there. It’s been amazing to return to my hometown and have a hand in treating spine injuries in my community.

2. What is your educational background?

I obtained my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at UC Berkeley and earned my medical degree from New York Medical College. I then went on to complete Orthopedic residency at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and culminated my training at UCLA where I did my Spine Surgery fellowship.

3. Tell us a little bit about your practice/specialty …

I am currently in private practice at OrthoNorCal in Los Gatos, CA. The majority of my practice focuses on treating degenerative spine conditions affecting the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine with a combination of minimally invasive and traditional techniques. I perform complex revision surgeries and also treat subacute traumatic injuries and tumors. My personal goal has been to educate both patients and all members of the health care delivery team regarding spinal conditions and treatment options to improve the efficacy of our combined care.

4. How long have you been a NASS member and why did you join?

I’ve been a NASS member since I was in Orthopedic residency. Over the years, the benefits of my membership have continued to expand. During residency and fellowship, NASS was an excellent means to gain exposure to emerging technologies in spine care, frontline research, network with peers, academic institutions and other members in private practice to search for a job. Throughout practice, being a member of various committees has allowed me to gain insight into how to impact spine education on a more global scale. Annual meeting attendance and interaction with other NASS members equips me to deliver a higher level of up-to-date care to my patients, as my approach to various spine conditions is continually modified by my experiences. Being part of NASS is integral to keeping up with the growth of the ever-changing field of spine surgery.

5. You are a member of NASS’ new website development committee. What are some of your goals for the new committee?

I was recently appointed chair of NASS Website Development Committee. My involvement with this project was spurred from my passion to deliver high quality education to all health care professionals involved with spine care. Currently, the NASS website serves as the home base for members to accomplish various tasks such as paying membership dues, registering for courses and access educational content from meetings all around the world. Our goal is remodeling the website to enhance the user experience by improving the ability to navigate the content but also, and more importantly, to structure available content such that there is a true educational experience available to the user.

Furthermore, we want to improve both the delivery and utility of practice management content. The committee aims to improve the mobile use of the website to capture the continued interest of future leaders within spine surgery such that there is a seamless transition in its use on a cell phone, tablet or wearable device.

6. As a young physician, what is some advice you would give to an aspiring spine care provider?

Spine surgery is a complex and vast field and if you are thinking about becoming a spine surgeon I would try to get as much exposure to different conditions and surgeries as early as you can. Though I have a personal bias, I think the more you see early on, the more excited you will be about the opportunity to become a spine care provider.

For those who are on the surgeon track, seeing patients in clinic holds at least equal, if not greater value to operative experience. It is important to make the correct diagnosis but counseling patients on their spine conditions while educating them about all their different treatment options is a refined art. Your operative skills will continue to grow the more cases you do but the foundation of having a successful spine surgery practice rests on your interactions with spine patients.

7. In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing spine care providers today?

From a clinical perspective, the greatest challenge for spine care providers remains identifying the ideal treatment for discogenic low back pain. We have been through the eras of fusion, disc arthroplasty and a myriad of conservative techniques, but this diagnosis remains a viable challenge to overcome. It therefore necessitates continued innovation and critical thinking on the part of spine care providers which personally-speaking, is part of the allure of the field.

In terms of practice management, we continue to face declining reimbursement rates for spine care and ever-changing insurance guidelines for procedural authorization. This will require continued collaboration on a state and national level of physicians and policy makers and as a member of NASS, physicians can work with the political advocacy committee to help with this process.

8. Social media is becoming more prevalent every day in our world. Do you use social media at all professionally and if so, which platforms do you prefer?

My practice uses social media mainly for marketing purposes. Much like our intent with the NASS website redesign, I think it is important in medicine to stay relevant with the way in which the rest of the world is communicating. We want to make sure our patients know how to find us. At the same time, I think social media affords a platform by which spine education can be provided in a more accurate manner as the viewer knows it is coming from a reliable medical source. I think the most widespread means to market are Facebook and Instagram at this point. If one is interested in a sharing files in a longer video format, YouTube is quite useful as well.

9. What is your opinion of the way the health care industry is currently covered in the media?

I think the media does a good job of trying to shed light on issues within the health care industry, but often times they are limited by the lack of information available to them. I would encourage those who report on the issues to try to work with as many involved physicians as possible to present a balanced perspective.

10. What do you do for relaxation in your down time (example: hobbies, sports, travel)?

I try my best to make regular trips to the gym. On the weekends, I play basketball with friends. The best and most enjoyable form of relaxation seems to be hanging out with my wife and my family.
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