Case Study: Academic Medical Center Opens Comprehensive Spine Center

Case Study: Academic Medical Center Opens Comprehensive Spine Center

Avanza capabilities at work: Strategic Planning, Partnership Development and Facilitation, Program Design, Implementation, Operations and Evaluation

"We are in a very good place now, to push forward with this important program. Avanza's expertise and insights have been highly beneficial to our institution."


A major academic medical center set out to develop a comprehensive spine center. This center would bring together surgical and non-surgical providers for collaboration in a clinic setting to facilitate referrals from the area's primary care physicians and ensure undiagnosed patients receive appropriate care. The academic medical center wanted all patients in need of possible spine-related care to enter the system through the spine center so their condition could be correctly assessed for either a surgical or non-surgical treatment plan.

The primary objective for the clinic was to develop a multi-specialist consultation model that would create customized treatment plans for undiagnosed patients during their first visit. Upon arrival, patients would have immediate access to the medical professionals who could effectively assess their condition.


As the clinic was opening, Avanza Healthcare Strategies was brought in by senior leadership to ensure there was a balance between all of the different department administrators. This would allow truly collaborative care at the spine center, with no single discipline overshadowing the others.

Avanza was asked to optimize operations and get the spine center off to a dynamic start. Specifically, the Avanza team was tasked with creating the governance oversight and a reporting infrastructure as well as assessing the model and troubleshooting the plan during its implementation, identifying and addressing areas for improvement.


  • Developed and facilitated governance and operations committees to improve inter-disciplinary communication and eliminate silos of services.
  • Developed scheduling guidelines to help standardize procedures, stabilize the schedule, ensure the balance of surgical to non-surgical appointment availability and make calculating utilization of clinic time easier. These utilization statistics will help ensure the clinic operates at maximum efficiency and collaboration goals are achieved.
  • Achieved physician leadership buy-in for operational improvements that would balance provider availability to ensure patients always have access to the appropriate provider.
  • Performed extensive data analysis on the entire patient-experience continuum (lifecycle) and identified opportunities for re-engineering and improvement.
  • Generated and shared data-driven reports to refine and expand existing goals and identify new ones.
  • Identified obstacles to effective outcomes management and optimized operations.


The spine center is off to a strong start. An increasing number of new hospital system patients in need of a spine-related assessment are seen at the center. Physicians with spine-related expertise from across the system have a desire to practice at the clinic and are being accommodated in the block schedule. Feedback from primary care providers is overwhelmingly positive.

In its first six months, the clinic maximized available block times and is considering expansion. The center's leadership is collecting and analyzing data to identify process improvements that will channel all new patients in need of spine care to the center.