That is the word on my mind for this edition of the Chairman’s Corner. Recently, I was asked by a colleague in the world of industry: “Why would we want to publish best practices about any topic until all research questions had been answered?” And the opinion was purely based on high-level prospective evidence.
I smiled as I replied, telling him our main reason was to provide guidance based on what we know but, even more importantly, to stimulate new questions for us to explore, fueling our curiosity.
You see, having led consensus statements for over two decades, I have learned that the most important trait is to be curious about whether our opinions and evidence grading represent the best practice. Many times, I have debated with other physicians who were so certain they were correct about an issue that they dampened the natural curiosity of many younger and more skeptical colleagues. Certainty can be a significant impediment when coupled with a closed mind.
This leads me to the reason I established NEURON and why I believe it will set the standard for future consensus in the fields of interventional spine, neuromodulation, physician education, and regenerative medicine.
Not only does NEURON strive to provide the best answers based on the current level of evidence and expert opinion, but our collaboration with Michael Schatman, PhD, and the editorial team of the Journal of Pain Research allows us to make real-time updates as new peer-reviewed literature becomes available. This will also offer our young innovators the opportunity to showcase their talents as authors of these crucial updates.
Another important goal of NEURON is to focus on science, evidence, and patient access. In my experience, many previous consensus guides have been bogged down by the politics of authorship, excessive editorial involvement, the need to support predetermined goals, a desire to satisfy third parties, and favoritism that often results in authors who contribute little work or effort to produce true best practices. We are fortunate at ASPN to have many dedicated members who serve as selfless volunteers, enabling us to avoid many of these pitfalls. Our aim is to have a committed and well-educated group of healthcare professionals working together to create the most researched, evidence-based opinions possible.
The diverse writing teams for each project bring a central goal of enhancing the field in terms of both patient safety and efficacy. The first NEURON paper on resident and fellow education is now published, and in the coming months, we will see new NEURON expert guidance on Diabetic Neuropathy (SWEET), Closed Loop in Spine and Nerve, Neuromodulation for Non-Surgical Back Pain, Spinal Stenosis, and Regenerative Medicine.
In addition, teams are currently being organized to write on topics like Endoscopic Surgery, SI Joint Fusion, Peripheral Nerve Stimulation, Advanced Practice Provider Best Practices, and Artificial Intelligence in Spine and Nerve Care. Additional larger projects are scheduled for launch in 2024.
The goal of NEURON is to bring together a group of experts to establish best practices and consensus guidelines on critical topics to improve patient care, safety, and efficacy.
Working together, I believe we can achieve this important goal. In that spirit, the ability to combine the efforts of Interventional Spine, Interventional Radiology, Ortho Spine, and Neurosurgery creates a unique opportunity to elevate all of these fields while advancing healthcare in the United States and throughout the world.