A Better Way Back

The Better Way Back Program was started to bring a spirit of community to patients who have had successful surgery and to ask these people to be ambassadors to assist those considering surgery.

The website The Better Way Back has become the premiere resource for patients researching chronic back and leg pain information and surgical treatment options.

The analogy I would like to draw is to the Press-Ganey survey and consulting that Hospitals and medical practices have used for many years to judge patient satisfaction. Every business in a free market has its own version of Press-Ganey. In the case of a surgeon’s practice, it is “name”, “reputation”, and “practice building”. If the patients don’t like it and aren’t “satisfied”, they go elsewhere and the practice suffers. If the patients are satisfied, the physician benefits with a more robust practice. This is like any other business. The better a business is at providing a product or service, the better off the business is. This is how it should be. Doctor makes patient happy, happy patient makes doctor happy. It’s a positive feedback loop. Although a physician's practice is more than “just a business”, it is a professional practice held to medical ethical standards, it has to pay the bills, with dollars and cents, according to the rules of business. Patient satisfaction is the lifeblood of the practice. Without it, the doc can’t pay their staff, their practice overhead or their own salary let alone have any profits left over. The surgeon serves a master: the master is the patient. If his patients dislike him, he suffers. If they’re HAPPY, he GAINS. It’s a positive feedback loop. Patient perceptions about the medical practice can have a direct impact on clinical outcomes and make or break the bottom line.

As The Better Way Back started I could see that this program could impact patient satisfaction by putting satisfied surgical patients in touch with those ready to undergo surgery. Just answering the questions every surgical patient has about what to expect afterward is such a patient benefit. The Better Way Back has built a strong patient network of satisfied customers. From the first day, I started asking successful surgical patients to sign up on the website. This was slow going because it required the patient to be proactive and go to the website. Several years ago I envisioned having a local convention hall of people to hear a national speaker about The Better Way Back and my own ambassadors to answer questions and talk to individuals at such a meeting. I remember suggesting this to a friend and surgeon from Hawaii. That surgeon was able to arrange the national speaker for The Better Way Back earlier this year and had great success drawing in new patients. There is such a community talk with Bill Walton famed basketball star and XLIF success story planned for San Antonio in October.

Today I use The Better Way Back throughout my practice. I have success posters for my ambassadors in the waiting room and exam rooms. The cairns with patient success inscriptions are on each coffee table in the waiting room. A book of the ambassadors own stories is in the waiting room. The latest from The Better Way Back is the missing link I have been looking for. Now before surgery I ask the patient permission for The Better Way Back to contact them. It makes it so easy for the patient. It is also easy for the secretary to fax or mail the simple enrollment form to The Better Way Back. The Better Way Back contacts the patient and sets up contact with ambassadors from my practice to guide them through the surgical experience. I have had several compliments from patients in the holding area pre-operatively saying the contact with the ambassador has relieved anxiety and given the patient confidence that the surgery will be successful. Afterwards it seems so easy to ask these patients to be ambassadors to help others. The practice built on patient satisfaction reinforced with The Better Way Back has been steadily gaining momentum and I believe will pay long lasting dividends in terms of new patient referrals from other patients.

In summary, The BetterWayBack has been the best tool for the patient to prepare for surgery. I want to thank The BetterWayBack for constantly pushing beyond expectations to deliver fresh thinking and sound insight to solve the challenges the patient brings every day in health care. The BetterWayBack has helped me improve the quality of the patient experience.

Better Way Back Program Details

Process and steps to a successful Better Way Back experience!

The Better Way Back® is dedicated to building a community that provides hope, support, and valuable information to patients suffering from chronic back and leg pain. They are committed to raising public awareness of spine disorders and educating patients, loved ones, clinicians, and healthcare providers about treatment options including surgery.

A Better Way Back | Our Mission

The Better Way Back is dedicated to building a community that provides hope, support, and valuable information to patients suffering from chronic back and leg pain. We are committed to raising public awareness of spine disorders and educating patients, loved ones, clinicians, and health care providers about treatment options, including spine surgery.

A Better Way Back | Our Vision

Our vision is to heighten awareness of spine disorders and to establish The Better Way Back as a valuable community offering hope, education, and support to patients suffering from chronic back and leg pain and considering spine surgery. We hope that through involvement in our vibrant community, patients will be inspired to seek treatment, become empowered to obtain long-term relief, and motivate others to follow in their path.

The Better Way Back Process

Step 1: Surgical Recommendation

A patient receives a recommendation from his/her surgeon to consider undergoing the minimally disruptive XLIF® procedure.

Step 2: Uncertainty

Natural fears, uncertainties, and doubts cloud the pre-op patient’s mind. He/she may wonder whether or not undergoing spine surgery will help his/her condition or result in more pain.

Step 3: Encouragement

The surgeon or member of the practice staff encourages the pre-op patient to contact The Better Way Back® at an early stage in the surgical process.

Step 4: Community

Every pre-op patient is given the opportunity to speak with a Patient Ambassador by doing ONE of the following: 1. Filling out the “Join our Community” form 2. Calling 1-800-475-7099 3. Completing the “Ask An Ambassador” form on www.thebetterwayback.org

Step 5: Connection

The Better Way Back team connects the pre-op patient with a Patient Ambassador who has similar demographics and indications, from the same surgeon if applicable, to talk via phone, e-mail, or in person.

Step 6: Hope

The Patient Ambassador shares his/her experience along with related fears, hesitations, doubts, and confusions. The Patient Ambassador provides the pre-op patient with hope and education and helps to give him/her a balanced perspective of the surgical process.

Step 7: Recovery

The pre-op patient, who now has a new outlook on spine surgery, is more prepared for the treatment and the recovery ahead. The Patient Ambassador as well as The Better Way Back team continue to offer their support until the patient is recovered – and in many situations, becomes a Patient Ambassador him/herself.

Better Way Back Success Stories

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Guy Fogel, MD, FAAOS
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