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Clinton J. Devin, Mohamad Bydon, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Inamullah Khan, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Matthew J. McGirt, Kristin R. Archer, Kevin T. Foley, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, John J. Knightly, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Anthony L. Asher

OBJECTIVE

Back pain and neck pain are two of the most common causes of work loss due to disability, which poses an economic burden on society. Due to recent changes in healthcare policies, patient-centered outcomes including return to work have been increasingly prioritized by physicians and hospitals to optimize healthcare delivery. In this study, the authors used a national spine registry to identify clinical factors associated with return to work at 3 months among patients undergoing a cervical spine surgery.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database registry for information collected from April 2013 through March 2017 for preoperatively employed patients undergoing cervical spine surgery for degenerative spine disease. Covariates included demographic, clinical, and operative variables, and baseline patient-reported outcomes. Multiple imputations were used for missing values and multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with higher odds of returning to work. Bootstrap resampling (200 iterations) was used to assess the validity of the model. A nomogram was constructed using the results of the multivariable model.

RESULTS

A total of 4689 patients were analyzed, of whom 82.2% (n = 3854) returned to work at 3 months postoperatively. Among previously employed and working patients, 89.3% (n = 3443) returned to work compared to 52.3% (n = 411) among those who were employed but not working (e.g., were on a leave) at the time of surgery (p < 0.001). On multivariable logistic regression the authors found that patients who were less likely to return to work were older (age > 56–65 years: OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.57–0.85, p < 0.001; age > 65 years: OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.43–0.97, p = 0.02); were employed but not working (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.20–0.29, p < 0.001); were employed part time (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.42–0.76, p < 0.001); had a heavy-intensity (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.32–0.54, p < 0.001) or medium-intensity (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.46–0.76, p < 0.001) occupation compared to a sedentary occupation type; had workers’ compensation (OR 0.38, 95% CI 0.28–0.53, p < 0.001); had a higher Neck Disability Index score at baseline (OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.51–0.70, p = 0.017); were more likely to present with myelopathy (OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.42–0.63, p < 0.001); and had more levels fused (3–5 levels: OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.35–0.61, p < 0.001). Using the multivariable analysis, the authors then constructed a nomogram to predict return to work, which was found to have an area under the curve of 0.812 and good validity.

CONCLUSIONS

Return to work is a crucial outcome that is being increasingly prioritized for employed patients undergoing spine surgery. The results from this study could help surgeons identify at-risk patients so that preoperative expectations could be discussed more comprehensively.

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Silky Chotai, Scott L. Parker, Ahilan Sivaganesan, J. Alex Sielatycki, Anthony L. Asher, Matthew J. McGirt and Clinton J. Devin

OBJECT

There is a paradigm shift toward rewarding providers for quality rather than volume. Complications appear to occur at a fairly consistent frequency in large aggregate data sets. Understanding how complications affect long-term patient-reported outcomes (PROs) following degenerative lumbar surgery is vital. The authors hypothesized that 90-day complications would adversely affect long-term PROs.

METHODS

Nine hundred six consecutive patients undergoing elective surgery for degenerative lumbar disease over a period of 4 years were enrolled into a prospective longitudinal registry. The following PROs were recorded at baseline and 12-month follow-up: Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, numeric rating scales for back and leg pain, quality of life (EQ-5D scores), general physical and mental health (SF-12 Physical Component Summary [PCS] and Mental Component Summary [MCS] scores) and responses to the North American Spine Society (NASS) satisfaction questionnaire. Previously published minimum clinically important difference (MCID) threshold were used to define meaningful improvement. Complications were divided into major (surgicalsite infection, hardware failure, new neurological deficit, pulmonary embolism, hematoma and myocardial infarction) and minor (urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and deep venous thrombosis).

RESULTS

Complications developed within 90 days of surgery in 13% (118) of the patients (major in 12% [108] and minor in 8% [68]). The mean improvement in ODI scores, EQ-5D scores, SF-12 PCS scores, and satisfaction at 3 months after surgery was significantly less in the patients with complications than in those who did not have major complications (ODI: 13.5 ± 21.2 vs 21.7 ± 19, < 0.0001; EQ-5D: 0.17 ± 0.25 vs 0.23 ± 0.23, p = 0.04; SF-12 PCS: 8.6 ± 13.3 vs 13.0 ± 11.9, 0.001; and satisfaction: 76% vs 90%, p = 0.002). At 12 months after surgery, the patients with major complications had higher ODI scores than those without complications (29.1 ± 17.7 vs 25.3 ± 18.3, p = 0.02). However, there was no difference in the change scores in ODI and absolute scores across all other PROs between the 2 groups. In multivariable linear regression analysis, after controlling for an array of preoperative variables, the occurrence of a major complication was not associated with worsening ODI scores 12 months after surgery. There was no difference in the percentage of patients achieving the MCID for disability (66% vs 64%), back pain (55% vs 56%), leg pain (62% vs 59%), or quality of life (19% vs 14%) or in patient satisfaction rates (82% vs 80%) between those without and with major complications.

CONCLUSIONS

Major complications within 90 days following lumbar spine surgery have significant impact on the short-term PROs. Patients with complications, however, do eventually achieve clinically meaningful outcomes and report satisfaction equivalent to those without major complications. This information allows a physician to counsel patients on the fact that a complication creates frustration, cost, and inconvenience; however, it does not appear to adversely affect clinically meaningful long-term outcomes and satisfaction.

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Anthony L. Asher, Matthew J. McGirt and Zoher Ghogawala

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Scott L. Parker, Matthew J. McGirt, Kimon Bekelis, Christopher M. Holland, Jason Davies, Clinton J. Devin, Tyler Atkins, Jack Knightly, Rachel Groman, Irene Zyung and Anthony L. Asher

Meaningful quality measurement and public reporting have the potential to facilitate targeted outcome improvement, practice-based learning, shared decision making, and effective resource utilization. Recent developments in national quality reporting programs, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) reporting option, have enhanced the ability of specialty groups to develop relevant quality measures of the care they deliver. QCDRs will complete the collection and submission of Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) quality measures data on behalf of individual eligible professionals. The National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) offers 21 non-PQRS measures, initially focused on spine procedures, which are the first specialty-specific measures for neurosurgery. Securing QCDR status for N2QOD is a tremendously important accomplishment for our specialty. This program will ensure that data collected through our registries and used for PQRS is meaningful for neurosurgeons, related spine care practitioners, their patients, and other stakeholders. The 2015 N2QOD QCDR is further evidence of neurosurgery’s commitment to substantively advancing the health care quality paradigm. The following manuscript outlines the measures now approved for use in the 2015 N2QOD QCDR. Measure specifications (measure type and descriptions, related measures, if any, as well as relevant National Quality Strategy domain[s]) along with rationale are provided for each measure.

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Scott L. Parker, Anthony L. Asher, Saniya S. Godil, Clinton J. Devin and Matthew J. McGirt

OBJECT

The health care landscape is rapidly shifting to incentivize quality of care rather than quantity of care. Quality and outcomes registry platforms lie at the center of all emerging evidence-driven reform models and will be used to inform decision makers in health care delivery. Obtaining real-world registry outcomes data from patients 12 months after spine surgery remains a challenge. The authors set out to determine whether 3-month patient-reported outcomes accurately predict 12-month outcomes and, hence, whether 3-month measurement systems suffice to identify effective versus noneffective spine care.

METHODS

All patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disease at a single medical institution over a 2-year period were enrolled in a prospective longitudinal registry. Patient-reported outcome instruments (numeric rating scale [NRS], Oswestry Disability Index [ODI], 12-Item Short Form Health Survey [SF-12], EQ-5D, and the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale) were recorded prospectively at baseline and at 3 months and 12 months after surgery. Linear regression was performed to determine the independent association of 3- and 12-month outcome. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed to determine whether improvement in general health state (EQ-5D) and disability (ODI) at 3 months accurately predicted improvement and achievement of minimum clinical important difference (MCID) at 12 months.

RESULTS

A total of 593 patients undergoing elective lumbar surgery were included in the study. There was a significant correlation between 3-month and 12-month EQ-5D (r = 0.71; p < 0.0001) and ODI (r = 0.70; p < 0.0001); however, the authors observed a sizable discrepancy in achievement of a clinically significant improvement (MCID) threshold at 3 versus 12 months on an individual patient level. For postoperative disability (ODI), 11.5% of patients who achieved an MCID threshold at 3 months dropped below this threshold at 12 months; 10.5% of patients who did not meet the MCID threshold at 3 months continued to improve and ultimately surpassed the MCID threshold at 12 months. For ODI, achieving MCID at 3 months accurately predicted 12-month MCID with only 62.6% specificity and 86.8% sensitivity. For postoperative health utility (EQ-5D), 8.5% of patients lost an MCID threshold improvement from 3 months to 12 months, while 4.0% gained the MCID threshold between 3 and 12 months postoperatively. For EQ-5D (quality-adjusted life years), achieving MCID at 3 months accurately predicted 12-month MCID with only 87.7% specificity and 87.2% sensitivity.

CONCLUSIONS

In a prospective registry, patient-reported measures of treatment effectiveness obtained at 3 months correlated with 12-month measures overall in aggregate, but did not reliably predict 12-month outcome at the patient level. Many patients who do not benefit from surgery by 3 months do so by 12 months, and, conversely, many patients reporting meaningful improvement by 3 months report loss of benefit at 12 months. Prospective longitudinal spine outcomes registries need to span at least 12 months to identify effective versus noneffective patient care.

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Matthew J. McGirt, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Anthony L. Asher and Clinton J. Devin

OBJECT

Lumbar spine surgery has been demonstrated to be efficacious for many degenerative spine conditions. However, there is wide variability in outcome after spine surgery at the individual patient level. All stakeholders in spine care will benefit from identification of the unique patient or disease subgroups that are least likely to benefit from surgery, are prone to costly complications, and have increased health care utilization. There remains a large demand for individual patient-level predictive analytics to guide decision support to optimize outcomes at the patient and population levels.

METHODS

One thousand eight hundred three consecutive patients undergoing spine surgery for various degenerative lumbar diagnoses were prospectively enrolled and followed for 1 year. A comprehensive patient interview and health assessment was performed at baseline and at 3 and 12 months after surgery. All predictive covariates were selected a priori. Eighty percent of the sample was randomly selected for model development, and 20% for model validation. Linear regression was performed with Bayesian model averaging to model 12-month ODI (Oswestry Disability Index). Logistic regression with Bayesian model averaging was used to model likelihood of complications, 30-day readmission, need for inpatient rehabilitation, and return to work. Goodness-of-fit was assessed via R2 for 12-month ODI and via the c-statistic, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), for the categorical endpoints. Discrimination (predictive performance) was assessed, using R2 for the ODI model and the c-statistic for the categorical endpoint models. Calibration was assessed using a plot of predicted versus observed values for the ODI model and the Hosmer-Lemeshow test for the categorical endpoint models.

RESULTS

On average, all patient-reported outcomes (PROs) were improved after surgery (ODI baseline vs 12 month: 50.4 vs 29.5%, p < 0.001). Complications occurred in 121 patients (6.6%), 108 (5.9%) were readmitted within 30 days of surgery, 188 (10.3%) required discharge to inpatient rehabilitation, 1630 (88.9%) returned to work, and 449 (24.5%) experienced an unplanned outcome (no improvement in ODI, a complication, or readmission). There were 45 unique baseline variable inputs, derived from 39 clinical variables and 38 questionnaire items (ODI, SF-12, MSPQ, VAS-BP, VAS-LP, VAS-NP), included in each model. For prediction of 12-month ODI, R2 was 0.51 for development and 0.47 for the validation study. For prediction of a complication, readmission, inpatient rehabilitation, and return to work, AUC values ranged 0.72-0.84 for development and 0.79-0.84 for validation study.

CONCLUSIONS

A novel prediction model utilizing both clinical data and patient interview inputs explained the majority of variation in outcome observed after lumbar spine surgery and reliably predicted 12-month improvement in physical disability, return to work, major complications, readmission, and need for inpatient rehabilitation for individual patients. Application of these models may allow clinicians to offer spine surgery specifically to those who are most likely to benefit and least likely to incur complications and excess costs.

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Kimon Bekelis, Matthew J. McGirt, Scott L. Parker, Christopher M. Holland, Jason Davies, Clinton J. Devin, Tyler Atkins, Jack Knightly, Rachel Groman, Irene Zyung and Anthony L. Asher

Quality measurement and public reporting are intended to facilitate targeted outcome improvement, practice-based learning, shared decision making, and effective resource utilization. However, regulatory implementation has created a complex network of reporting requirements for physicians and medical practices. These include Medicare’s Physician Quality Reporting System, Electronic Health Records Meaningful Use, and Value-Based Payment Modifier programs. The common denominator of all these initiatives is that to avoid penalties, physicians must meet “generic” quality standards that, in the case of neurosurgery and many other specialties, are not pertinent to everyday clinical practice and hold specialists accountable for care decisions outside of their direct control.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently authorized alternative quality reporting mechanisms for the Physician Quality Reporting System, which allow registries to become subspecialty-reporting mechanisms under the Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) program. These programs further give subspecialties latitude to develop measures of health care quality that are relevant to the care provided. As such, these programs amplify the power of clinical registries by allowing more accurate assessment of practice patterns, patient experiences, and overall health care value. Neurosurgery has been at the forefront of these developments, leveraging the experience of the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database to create one of the first specialty-specific QCDRs.

Recent legislative reform has continued to change this landscape and has fueled optimism that registries (including QCDRs) and other specialty-driven quality measures will be a prominent feature of federal and private sector quality improvement initiatives. These physician- and patient-driven methods will allow neurosurgery to underscore the value of interventions, contribute to the development of sustainable health care solutions, and actively participate in meaningful quality initiatives for the benefit of the patients served.

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Matthew J. McGirt, Saniya S. Godil, Anthony L. Asher, Scott L. Parker and Clinton J. Devin

OBJECT

In an era of escalating health care cost and universal pressure of improving efficiency and cost of care, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) have emerged as lower cost options for many surgical therapies. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is one of the most prevalent spine surgeries performed and is rapidly increasing with an expanding aging population. While ASCs offer cost advantages for ACDF, there is a scarcity of evidence that ASCs allow for equivalent quality and thus superior health care value. Therefore, the authors analyzed a nationwide, prospective quality improvement registry (National Surgical Quality Improvement Program [NSQIP]) to compare the quality of ACDF surgery performed in the outpatient ASC versus the inpatient hospital setting.

METHODS

Patients undergoing ACDF (2005-2011) were identified from the NSQIP database based on the primary Current Procedural Terminology codes. Patients were divided into 2 cohorts (outpatient vs inpatient) based on the acute care setting documented in the NSQIP database. All 30-day surgical morbidity and mortality rates were compared between the 2 groups. Propensity score matching and multivariate logistic regression analysis were used to adjust for confounding factors and to identify the independent association of outpatient ACDF with perioperative outcomes and morbidity.

RESULTS

A total of 7288 ACDF cases were identified (inpatient = 6120, outpatient = 1168). Unadjusted rates of major morbidity (0.94% vs 4.5%, p < 0.001) and return to the operating room (OR) within 30 days (0.3% vs 2.0%, p < 0.001) were significantly lower in outpatient versus inpatient ACDF. After propensity matching 1442 cases (inpatient = 650, outpatient = 792) based on baseline 32 covariates, rates of major morbidity (1.4% vs 3.1%, p = 0.03), and return to the OR (0.34% vs 1.4%, p = 0.04) remained significantly lower after outpatient ACDF. Adjusted comparison using multivariate logistic regression demonstrated that ACDF performed in the outpatient setting had 58% lower odds of having a major morbidity and 80% lower odds of return to the OR within 30 days.

CONCLUSIONS

An analysis of a nationwide, prospective quality improvement registry representing more than 250 hospitals demonstrates that 1- to 2-level ACDF can be safely performed in the outpatient ambulatory surgery setting in patients who are appropriate candidates. In an effort to decrease cost of care, surgeons can safely consider performing ACDF in an ASC environment.