Hospital for Special Surgery HSS

Todd J. Albert, Hospital for Special Surgery HSS

Todd J. Albert, M.D.

A Center of Excellence

Editors’ Note

Dr. Todd Albert is also Korein-Wilson Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. He is the Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. The author of seven books and more than 40 book chapters, he has also published 300 peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles. Previously,he was Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics and President of The Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Albert graduated from University of Virginia School of Medicine, and performed a fellowship in spinal surgery at the Minnesota Spine Center.

How do you define your role at HSS?

The Surgeon-in-Chief role means I’m in charge of all the practitioners here as they fulfill our three most important missions, which are excellent clinical care, academics involving research and education, and unifying the troops. About 80 percent of our production is surgery. Since we have the benefit of being a focused hospital, everything is related in some way to the provision of that care. My goal is to make sure that the patient gets the greatest and most efficient care, and that we maintain the highest standards.

The Chief Medical Officer role is more concerned with making sure we’re matching all of our requirements for the state and the country as a healthcare provider. It also includes making sure if anything like Ebola happens, we take responsibility for how we should handle it. I’m in charge of the medical board, which is the executive committee of the hospital.

I’m also a spine surgeon with a focus on cervical spine problems.

It’s an advantage as a leader to be a practicing physician. One of the most important principles is walking the walk.

As a leader in the spinal area, would you touch on recent advances?

Over the past 10 years, there has been a move towards less invasive surgery. What’s particularly optimistic on the scientific front is treating spinal cord injury with drugs coming off patent. There are amazing things going on within rehabilitation. Another focus has been utilizing cell and tissue engineering to regenerate tissues.

We’ve also done quite well with outcomes of surgery, in terms of what works and what doesn’t, and what is cost effective.

Are you concerned whether the challenges in healthcare can be met?

I’m not sure as a country that we’re on the right track. Using HSS as an example, centers of excellence and focused factories are the most efficient way to care for disease. There is a reason that our total cost of care for any pathway is less. It’s because we have fewer re-admissions and fewer re-operations, and that is really efficient.

The problem can be tackled, but maybe the right thing is to set up centers to lower the cost of care overall.

What excited you about joining HSS?

To be in charge of a place that is so focused on the disease I take care of as a practitioner and to find ways to do it better excited me immensely. To be able to interface nationally and internationally with patients and other providers made it that much better. This pulpit is an opportunity that people in our field only get once in a lifetime.•