THE ONS STORY
This month, Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists, PC (ONS) entered its 20th year as one the most respected and trusted orthopedic and spine practices in the region. Through the years, the practice has stayed true to its mission of putting the patient first and providing the highest standard of specialty care.
A Bold New Plan
Back in October of 1998, the concept for ONS was bold and new: to build a community practice of elite fellowship-trained subspecialists and neurosurgeons whose training , skill and expertise rivaled that of the doctors at large, city hospitals. Today, ONS’s physicians rank top among their counterparts by national, regional and local peer ranking agencies.
The original ONS was created with the merger of the practices of orthopedic surgeons Seth Miller, MD, John Crowe, MD (who retired in 2015), and neurosurgeon Mark Camel, MD, each of whom had top-tier specialty training in their respective fields. Their business model focused on providing specialized care of the entire musculoskeletal system. Their belief was, and continues to be, that patients have better outcomes when treated by a physician who specializes in their particular type of condition or injury. With this in mind, they assembled the practice with doctors who had specialty training in all the major body parts; shoulder and elbow, hand and wrist, knee, foot and ankle, joint replacement and the spine.
“Twenty years ago, it was a common belief that you had to drive to New York City to get the best specialized care,” said ONS president Dr. Miller. “We set out to challenge that assumption by recruiting exceptionally qualified physicians from the most elite specialty fellowship programs in the country to come work here in Greenwich, CT. We wanted to deliver world class care in a convenient and friendly environment so people could avoid the hassle of going to the city.”
This business model also supported a team-based approach to patient care. At ONS, physicians do not compete with one another for patients. Instead, ONS physicians work in collaboration with each other to ensure that a patient is seen by the most appropriate physician to treat that individual’s condition. That unique model consistently earns the practice patient satisfaction scores higher than 90%.
Investing in the Future
From its humble origins on the first floor of Building 6 at Greenwich Office Park in Greenwich, patient satisfaction and word of mouth propelled the practice’s expansion. ONS now occupies the entire building and has satellite locations in Stamford, CT and Harrison NY, where 26 orthopedic and spine physicians provide comprehensive musculoskeletal care from head to toe. All ONS locations feature physical therapy centers and digital X-ray. The Greenwich and Stamford locations also offer state-of-the-art MRI services. In addition, ONS leases space in Building 9 of Greenwich Office Park to house the finance and accounting departments and the Call Center.
With a focus on delivering the best possible patient outcomes, ONS has invested in leading edge technologies like digital X-ray systems and ultrasound to stay at the forefront of patient care. They were leaders in adopting electronic medical records (EMRs) to replace paper charts, and ONS is still among the few independent practices to offer onsite MRI services.
In 2004, ONS was among the first private practices to offer physiatry. Also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation, physiatry is a field of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system and the diseases and conditions that affect a person’s ability to function in a normal capacity.
ONS fellowship-trained physiatrists use non-surgical, opioid-free treatments including epidural injections and image-guided steroidal injections as alternatives to surgery. With the advent of regenerative medicine therapies using stem cells, platelet rich plasma and other natural substances, physiatrists also perform the newest biologic treatments that promote self-healing.
Achievements and Milestones
During the past two decades, ONS physicians have broken clinical ground in a number of areas. They were among the first to do computer-assisted joint replacements, image-guided therapeutic injections, and Cyberknife® procedures.
In 2006, Dr. Miller became the first surgeon in Connecticut to perform a reverse shoulder replacement. The previous year, Dr. Francis Ennis was the first in the region to perform a computer-assisted knee replacement. More recently, Drs. Clain and Peden were among the first to use a new synthetic cartilage to treat MTP joint arthritis. In August of this year, spine specialist, Dr. Scott Simon, was the first neurosurgeon in Fairfield and Westchester counties to perform spine surgery using a highly advanced robotic navigation system. ONS surgeons have also been ahead of the curve in developing opioid-free pain management protocols and opioid-sparing surgery.
Ongoing Research and Discovery
ONS physicians don’t just rely on the research of others. Through the establishment of the non-profit ONS Foundation for Clinical Research and Education (ONSF) ten years ago, ONS physicians have studied and developed better techniques to improve patient outcomes. ONSF research has been published in the most respected national and international medical journals and ONS physicians are often called upon to speak at medical conferences. ONSF president, Dr. Paul Sethi helped establish guidelines for surgical techniques and helped set surgical standards for needle use during certain surgical procedures. Dr. Sethi and other ONS physicians have taken a lead role in developing new national guidelines for the use of opioids to manage post-surgical pain. Now most ONS surgical patients can avoid addictive pain medication due to the use of new pain management protocol delivered during surgery. The Foundation’s community outreach projects include injury prevention seminars, a mini-med school summer program for high school students who have an interest in a career in medicine, class trips from local schools and technical demonstrations to outside clinicians.
A Focus on Sports Medicine
As sports and athleticism gained popularity with people of all ages and abilities, ONS established a Sports Medicine specialty center that has attracted physicians into the practice who have had affiliations with professional sports teams such as the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers as well as local college and high school teams. ONS sports medicine specialists apply the same treatment strategies used for high performance professionals to care for semi-pro, student and recreational athletes. ONS sports medicine specialists also launched ONS Ortho Access, a resource for school trainers and coaches to have immediate access to a physician by phone to assist in determining the best way to manage a student who has been injured during a game or practice.
In 2016, ONS Partners opened the Stamford Ambulatory Surgery Center(ASC), at First Stamford Place in Stamford, CT. The ASC is a brand new facility specifically designed for musculoskeletal surgeries and interventional pain management. The Center includes four surgical suites designed for orthopedic and neurosurgical procedures with the latest arthroscopic and computer-assisted technology. Particular attention was paid to patient comfort when designing the waiting room, and pre-operative and post-operative areas. The Stamford ASC is Accredited by the Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), and licensed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH).
Expanded Hours for Patient Care
In June 2018, ONS launched ONS Urgent Ortho Care. The after-hours, convenient walk-in service provides a fast, cost-effective alternative to an emergency room visit for sudden injuries or other musculoskeletal problems. Urgent orthopedic care is available on Mondays through Fridays from 5:00 – 8:00 pm and from 12:00 – 4:00 pm on Saturdays. There are plans to expand the service later in the year.
The practice employs over 200 in staff including operations, call center, billing office and clinical operations. Some of whom have been with ONS since its founding. ONS is in network with all major insurances and many smaller insurance providers.
In this day and age of costly concierge medicine and large hospital physician networks, ONS has always held true to its founding mission: to provide world-class, specialized care to patients in Fairfield and Westchester County, with the convenience and personal touch of a small, independent community practice. That unique ONS brand of care and compassion will never change with age.