Technology and Common Sense Are Key to Avoiding Practice Extinction

Tom C. Nguyen, MD

Tom C. Nguyen, MD

What’s the secret to keeping your practice alive and well? Embrace new technology, new skills, and even social media—that’s the prescription for success and avoiding practice extinction, according to Tom C. Nguyen, MD, from The University of Texas at Houston. 

“It’s like a game of chess. To win, a practice must think not only one to two steps ahead, but three to four steps ahead,” Dr. Nguyen said. “We must look to the future, be receptive to new technologies, be involved with innovation, and work in a multidisciplinary and collaborative fashion.” 

Dr. Nguyen will moderate Tuesday’s session, “Avoiding Practice Extinction: Staying Relevant with New Technologies and Techniques,” with Lana Y. Schumacher, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The session will describe a framework for keeping practices sustainable now and in the future and will offer tips that physicians can apply immediately upon returning home. 

Technology will be a key focus of the session, and speakers will guide attendees toward adopting the newest tools and techniques, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy, and robotics.

Avoiding Practice Extinction: Staying Relevant with New Technologies and Techniques

7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Room 208

It’s an exciting time for cardiothoracic surgery, Dr. Nguyen said, thanks to recent “disruptive advancements” in catheter-based technologies and minimally invasive techniques. TAVR and MitraClip procedures are now critical treatments for structural heart disease.  

“Most surgeons currently do not have the skillset to proficiently perform these procedures. If they do not learn them, they will become extinct,” he said. “Nearly 35% of what we do as cardiac surgeons is in the structural heart space. If we don’t learn transcatheter and minimally invasive skills, we’ll lose this share.”

Presentations will cover how to start transcatheter valve and robotic thoracic programs, better collaborate with cardiologists, fit training on new technologies into your schedule, and take advantage of support tools from specialty societies. Representatives from STS, the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education will provide unique perspectives on reviving practices headed toward extinction.

“How do surgeons learn to adopt new technology?” Dr. Nguyen asked. “The train has left the station. Can surgeons still get a ticket for the ride?”

Learning to use social media also is critical to avoiding practice extinction. “Most patients will use the internet to research or find their physician. In medicine, we tend to disregard the power of the internet and social media, but it’s clearly there,” Dr. Nguyen said.

Ultimately, the secret to a healthy practice now and in the future requires cutting-edge thinking and a little common sense.

“Think outside the box, embrace new technology, learn to be proficient at transcatheter and minimally invasive procedures, and attend not only the STS educational courses, but also cardiology meetings,” Dr. Nguyen advised.