Primary Medical Specialties Co-Leading Development of Spine Patient Registry

Members & Publications


March 8, 2016





For Immediate Release

Meagen Arensdorff
Director of Marketing, AAPM&R
847.737.6092 |

Alice Kelsey
Associate Executive Director, AANS
847.378.0517 |

Primary Medical Specialties Co-Leading Development of Spine Patient Registry

Chicago, IL (March 8, 2016) – For the first time, two primary medical specialties are joining forces to create a clinical data registry. Together, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) are creating a Spine Patient Registry, which will support the collection and submission of quality data specific to spine patients and track these patients’ outcomes over time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, back pain is one of the most common health complaints, affecting more than one in four adults every year, and a popular reason for physician visits. The specialties of physical medicine and rehabilitation and neurosurgery serve a large portion of spine patients in the United States. The registry will follow both surgical and nonsurgical patients longitudinally, and collectively, the data has the ability to advance the understanding of this ever-growing patient population while demonstrating the quality and value of treatments.

“PM&R physicians practicing spine medicine currently represent the largest segment of our specialty and Academy membership,” commented Gregory M. Worsowicz, MD, MBA, president of AAPM&R.  “Their work is critical for improving the health of the spine patient population as well as for the future of our specialty.  Through this registry and data we seek to demonstrate the clinical expertise and impact PM&R physicians have on the lives of these patients.  This unique collaboration with AANS also showcases a key to the physiatric approach to medicine: team-based care.”

“We are exceedingly excited about the potential of this joint registry.  Physiatrists and neurosurgeons are natural partners in caring for patients suffering spine disorders throughout the continuum of care.  Through this registry and for the first time we will have a meaningful database with patient reported outcomes that will allow us to understand which patients respond to medications, which ones respond to physical therapy, which ones respond to percutaneous treatments, and, finally, which ones are best served by surgery.  While we normally try all conservative options up-front, we may be able to predict which patients are destined to fail those interventions and we can go directly to some form of percutaneous or open surgical procedure to hopefully eliminate suffering quicker.  As the database matures we will be able to communicate very directly with the patient and say ‘we can predict that this treatment for you has an 85% chance of improving quality of life.’  This knowledge will be empowering to physicians as well as patients.  We look forward to a long and productive relationship with our colleagues from the AAPM&R,” added AANS President, H. Hunt Batjer, MD, FAANS.

The objectives for the Spine Patient Registry also closely align to health care’s shift towards value-based payments. The Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) established new mandates that will have a direct effect on the physician quality reporting programs. Payment adjustments are scheduled to be implemented in 2019 tied to a 2017 performance period. AAPM&R and the AANS are diligently preparing the registry for utilization for the 2017 reporting period. Physicians who participate in the registry will meet reporting requirements while having the capacity to advance quality improvement and research needs.

About AAPM&R

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) is the national medical specialty organization representing more than 9,000 physicians who are specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). PM&R physicians, also known as physiatrists, treat a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Physiatrists utilize cutting‐edge as well as time‐tested treatments to maximize function and quality of life.

About AANS

Founded in 1931 as the Harvey Cushing Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is a scientific and educational association with more than 9,000 members worldwide. The AANS is dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to provide the highest quality of neurosurgical care to the public. All active members of the AANS are certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Neurosurgery) of Canada or the Mexican Council of Neurological Surgery, AC. Neurological surgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system, including the spinal column, spinal cord, brain and peripheral nerves. To learn more, visit


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Last month, two bills were introduced in the House proposing solutions to the estimated 10.6% Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor cut expected to go into effect January 1, 2021.  The bills offer some relief to the cut, but do not reflect a comprehensive or long-term solution.  AAPM&R has therefore chosen to remain neutral regarding these bills. 

Your Academy continues to advocate for a permanent solution to the conversion factor cut while maintaining the important payment increases to office and outpatient evaluation and management services.