Who would have imagined this 30 years ago—a leading medical college requiring their patients see a chiropractor before having back surgery?
But that’s exactly what’s happening at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). In order to increase success and minimize costs in the treatment of chronic low back pain, the UPMC Health Plan now includes a set of revolutionary guidelines for managing back pain.
As of January 1, 2012, UPMC is pioneering a far-reaching initiative focused on the treatment of chronic back pain. While surgical emergencies would still be addressed immediately, all other lower back surgeries would require prior authorization and conservative care to determine if back surgery was medically necessary. Quoting their policy:
“To be considered for surgery, patients with chronic low back pain must have:
- Tried and failed a 3-month course of conservative management, which includes physical therapy, chiropractic therapy and medication.
- Completed UPMC Health Plan’s Low Back Pain Health Coaching Program.
This policy was developed using evidence-based literature and professional society guidelines, as well as the input of external medical professionals with expertise in the area.”
When I began practicing chiropractic care in Greenville, S.C., more than 30 years ago, this team approach was unheard of. But the results of chiropractic care in the treatment of lower back pain have spoken for themselves—reduction of time lost from work, reduction of healthcare costs, increased success, and higher patient satisfaction. UPMC has taken the lead in what doctors should always be focused on: what’s best for the patient.
This is the vanguard of the new team approach in spine care. Look for more examples of this type of cooperation in the future!