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Dr. Van Wagner among the first to receive Primary Spine Practitioner (PSP) certification

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

Dr. Van Wagner has recently completed the Primary Spine Practitioner (PSP) certification program at the University of Pittsburgh. As part of the inaugural class of 2018-2019, Dr. Van Wagner is now one of the few practitioners worldwide to hold the PSP Certification.

About the PSP

The Primary Spine Practitioner certification program was developed by the University of Pittsburgh to fill a much-needed gap in our healthcare community. Patients with back and spine pain are unfortunately faced with rising costs, which are not translating into improved outcomes. Treatment plans for spinal issues are often ineffective or insufficient in getting patients to their optimum health.

Part of the reason for this is that patients are faced with a plethora of options for spinal care, from specialists like chiropractors, orthopedists, and neurosurgeons to massage therapists, physical therapists, and internal medicine doctors. This has been coined the Spine Care Supermarket. Patients can choose their own entry-point into the health care community and leave what they may actually need “on the shelves”. Similar to a Supermarket, this results in the patient making decisions that are influenced by marketing and brand recognition rather than by evidenced-based medicine.

The Primary Spine Practitioner is trained to be the front door and first point of contact for patients with spine issues entering into healthcare community. PSPs are specially trained to recognize patients who will require interventions such as x-ray, MRI, medication, or surgery. The majority of patients, despite what many believe, do not need initial advanced imaging for their condition. In fact, patients who receive advanced imaging early in care have a higher rate of pain and disability than those who do not. Recognizing those patients who would not likely benefit from certain interventions effectively lowers healthcare costs for patients and reduces their number of unnecessary, ineffective treatments.

Many patients start looking for relief by seeking out pain medication. Many patients start by looking for relief by requesting a referral to a surgeon. The PSP will serve as a portal of entry to guide patients to the correct specialty or intervention, so that patients are not forced to make these difficult decisions before ever being evaluated.

The University of Pittsburgh and Care New England Health System developed this important certification program, having recognized that the current spine-care crisis is unsustainable from both a cost and outcomes perspectives. Dr. Van Wagner and the rest of the inaugural class are now trained to be key parts of this innovative, value-based care solution.

If you are having difficulty navigating the options available to you for your back pain or spinal condition, call our office or book an appointment online with Dr. VanWagner.

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