NASS On Spine

January 09, 2017

Q&A With Scott Tromanhauser, MD

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

I was born and raised in and around Buffalo, New York but have now lived in Boston, MA since 1991 when I came for my spine surgery fellowship and to please my wife, who is now an OB Hospitalist here.

2. What is your educational background?

I attended the University of Buffalo for undergraduate studies in Biology, stayed for two more years in a graduate program in Experimental Pathology, then on to Albany Medical College in Albany, NY where I stayed for orthopaedic residency training. Several years later I earned an MBA from Northeastern University and just this year a Masters in Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College.

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

I’ve been in private practice since leaving fellowship in 1992. Initially in solo practice for a few years before co-founding a group practice that lasted 15 years and now back in solo practice once again. Most of that time spent at the New England Baptist Hospital, one of the country’s premiere orthopaedic specialty hospitals. I am the Chief of Spine Surgery there now as well as the Chief Medical Quality Officer and my reduced practice focuses on adult degenerative spinal disorders.

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

I joined NASS in 1994 but had already attended a few meetings at that point. I’ve always believed that NASS was the only “had-to-go-to” spine meeting. I’ve only missed one meeting all those years. It affords the opportunity to connect with old and new colleagues, and to new technology and ways of thinking.

5. What do you think is the most pressing issue or issues in spine care today?

In this new age of value-driven health care there is significant pressure to lower costs and raise quality, to balance the value equation. Those two elements need constant attention; data collection and analytics around the elements of each are most important but expensive and difficult to collect but absolutely necessary. We won’t have a choice but to invest in these efforts. To succeed with the value equation we need to establish best practices, reduce variation in the way we practice and take the lead in reducing unproven approaches and use of unproven implants and biologics.

6. What advice would you give to a young, aspiring spine doctor (or spine care provider)?

I recommend sticking to proven approaches to solving your patient’s problems, understand the psychosocial determinants of treatment outcomes and invest in outcomes collection. Furthermore, get involved with your hospitals management team and other committees; resist the temptation of the devisive “us vs. them” mentality between docs and hospital administrators. You both need each other equally.

7. Why should members attend NASS meetings?

It is one of the best ways to keep up-to-date on new developments in spine care, interact with your colleagues and industry and earn CME’s.

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

Like many subjects covered in the media, the negative or sensational is seen as much more valuable, so often our most controversial issues are covered but often in a biased or incomplete manner.

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

I am the cook in the family and that is my main way to escape my concerns. It has made it very difficult to be satisfied in any but the best restaurants so we go out a lot less often. In the winter I love to ski and my preferred mountain is Sugarloaf in Maine.
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