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New survey highlights the benefits of online knowledge sharing for surgeons

Syndicom : 29 May, 2008  (Company News)
Syndicom, a platform for online collaboration and knowledge sharing, has released results from a new survey of physicians on the effectiveness of web-based collaboration for making surgical decisions.
The study revealed that web-based peer-to-peer collaboration has many advantages for participating surgeons, including convenience and immediate feedback from other surgeons.

The survey of Syndicom SpineConnect members was conducted by Zoomerang, on behalf of three leading spine surgeons - Dr Paul J Slosar, Dr Jim A Youssef, and Dr Darrel S Brodke. Results of the study have been accepted for presentation at the following conferences in 2008: SpineWeek in Geneva, Switzerland in May; the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) in Quebec, Canada in June; and the North American Spine Society (NASS) in Toronto, Canada in September 2008.

'The majority of physicians said that the opportunity to collaborate with their peers has improved their ability to practice spine surgery, and they were much more likely to adopt new techniques,' said Scott Capdevielle, chief executive officer of Syndicom. 'These findings demonstrate an Internet-based collaboration platform can play a vital and emerging role in surgeon training and education.'

According to the study, there were two primary ways surgeons used the SpineConnect web platform - actively and passively. Surgeons who were actively engaged in interaction with others on the site were identified as ‘Active-Interactive’ surgeons; while those who visited the site, but did not interact with others, were classified as ‘Passive-Observer’ surgeons.

Ninety percent of the Active-Interactive surgeons, and 68 percent of the Passive-Observer users, reported that the web platform improved his or her ability to practice surgery. In fact, after surgeons had reviewed the comments posted on the site, an alteration in the actual surgical planning and decisions occurred in more than one third (34 percent) of the cases.

Sixty-eight percent of the surgeons surveyed stated that online discussions led them to consider alternative methods or approaches to cases. Three-quarters of the active users, and 62 percent of the passive users, reported they are more likely to adopt new surgical techniques, when they have immediate online access to the knowledge of other experienced surgeons.

'Prior to the advent of web-based social networking and collaboration, few opportunities existed for physicians to obtain direct advice quickly from peers on complicated cases,' said Dr Paul J Slosar, Jr, SpineCare Medical Group, one of the surgeons who commissioned the study. 'Physicians were often forced to rely on resources that were not applicable to a unique surgical problem. Thanks to web-based collaboration on SpineConnect, communication among experienced surgeons is much easier and faster, which leads to more innovative use of medical procedures and devices for better patient outcomes.'

Methodology: To determine if an Internet-based, spine-surgeon collaborative web site will alter surgical decisions and affect the adoption of new techniques, questionnaires were administered to all members of Syndicom SpineConnect who had accessed the site during a three-month study interval. The questions were designed to assess the utility of SpineConnect for peer-to-peer collaboration, surgical planning, as well as new-technology-adoption applications. In all, 93 surgeons participated in the study.
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