1. Crossley, Leslie
  2. Mueller, Lori
  3. Horstman, Patricia


Back disorders encompass a spectrum of conditions, from those of acute onset and short duration to lifelong disorders. The use of a traditional spine center model of patient flow, in which the patient is scheduled the first available appointment without an initial assessment of spine-related symptoms at West Virginia University Spine Center, Morgantown, West Virginia, resulted in frustration and delays for the spine patient and referring physician dissatisfaction. Today, the use of a software-assisted spine patient triage and registered nurse care coordinator patient navigation system in this multidiscipline, multimodality comprehensive spine program provides quick and efficient patient triage to the appropriate level of spine care (surgeon vs. nonsurgeon). The model consists of five major steps, which are explored in this article: medical history intake; films or studies retrieval; rapid review of the patient's medical condition and diagnostics by a spine specialist preappointment and subsequent triage to the appropriate level of spine care; registered nurse care coordinator patient education and guided navigation through the patient's preferred treatment plan; and last, diagnostic study, pain injection, and provider scheduling. Patient satisfaction scores, referring physician satisfaction scores, and resultant impact on referral volumes, ancillary utilization, workload productivity, and surgical yield demonstrate that this new approach to patient triage has made significant improvements in efficiency, productivity, and service.