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Dr. Corinna Zygourakis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and a board-certified neurological surgeon who specializes in comprehensive surgical care of the adult spine, focusing on the treatment of complex spinal disorders, including spinal deformity, revision surgery, and spinal tumors. Dr. Zygourakis employs the latest minimally invasive, motion-sparing, and robotic surgical techniques to achieve the best outcomes for her patients. Her philosophy is to take care of patients with respect and compassion, as she would want her own family treated.Dr. Zygourakis trained at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for her combined neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery complex spine fellowship, where she performed the first surgery internationally with the Globus Excelsius spinal robot. She completed her residency at the top-ranked neurosurgical program at the University of California, San Francisco, and obtained her M.D. degree cum laude from Harvard Medical School. She received her B.S. degree with honors from the California Institute of Technology, where she received a full merit scholarship and the Mabel Beckman Commencement Prize to the Top Graduating Woman in her class. She has received numerous awards including “Top 20 Under 40 Spine Surgeons” (SpineLine, North American Spine Society) and the Paul and Daisy National Fellowship for New Americans. Committed to serving and advocating for spine patients through her clinical, education, and research efforts, Dr. Zygourakis has published more than eighty scientific articles and book chapters on healthcare costs, quality of neurosurgical care, and spine surgery. Her current research efforts include developing and leading the first randomized clinical trial using the Apple Watch to objectively track patient movement and function before and after spine surgery, as well as multiple studies investigating the impact of race, gender, and socioeconomic status on spinal surgery access and outcomes.
My goal is to translate research into real-world action and decision-making so that my work can impact patients and the institutions in which they receive care. With a research focus on healthcare cost and quality of care, I approach neurosurgery in a unique way—one that applies business operations, economics, and healthcare delivery principles to our field. I have pursued formal LEAN business training, and believe in the importance of working together with other departments and administrators, as well as physicians and surgeons on the hospital and national level, to effect change. During my residency, I developed and led a multi-departmental prospective study at UCSF called OR SCORE (OR Surgical Cost Reduction Project) that brought together surgeons from the neurosurgery, orthopedics and ENT departments with nurses and administrators. OR SCORE successfully reduced surgical supply costs by nearly one million dollars in its first year by providing >60 surgeons with price transparency scorecards. This work led to a first-author publication in JAMA Surgery, but more importantly, set the foundation for further quality improvement and cost reduction efforts across the UCSF hospital system.A volunteer neurosurgical mission trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, where limited resources create an OR environment that is strikingly more frugal than the U.S., inspired me to lead another project aimed at quantifying and reducing operating room waste at UCSF. I have also conducted research looking at the safety and outcomes of overlapping surgery, as well as several projects to define the factors underlying variation in cost for neurosurgical care using UCSF’s hospital data and national databases like the National Inpatient Sample, Vizient (formerly known as University Health Consortium), and Medicare.As a clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins, I continued and expanded these research efforts. I designed and implemented an Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) protocol at the Johns Hopkins Bayview hospital. This protocol standardized care for our spine patients, emphasizing pre-operative rehabilitation, psychiatric and nutritional assessments, and smoking cessation, as well as intra- and post-operative multi-modal pain therapy, early mobilization, and standardized antibiotic and bowel regimens. I also collaborated with engineers in the Johns Hopkins Carnegie Center for Surgical Innovation to develop better algorithms for intra-operative CT imaging, and provided assistance with operations to a basic science study looking at the role of cerebrospinal fluid drainage and duraplasty in a porcine model of spinal cord injury.At Stanford, I am building a research group focused on: (1) perfecting paradigms for delivery of high-end technology in spinal care, including robotics and navigation, (2) implementing cost and quality strategies in large healthcare systems, and (3) computational analysis of big-data to effect real-time risk stratification and decision making in spine surgery. I'm excited to collaborate with my peers across surgical and medical departments, as well as business and engineering colleagues.
Improving Spine Surgical Care With Real-Time Objective Patient Tracking Using the Apple Watch
One of the primary goals of spine surgery is to reduce pain and increase mobility to improve
patients' quality of life. Currently, there is no established method for surgeons to
objectively track their patients' mobilization postoperatively. This study is the first
prospective trial utilizing the Apple Watch to objectively track patients before and after
elective spine surgery. The investigators hypothesize that the ability of patients to track
their own activity and discuss with their surgeon objective mobilization goals will not only
help patients achieve empowerment in their own care but also improve their overall
satisfaction and self-reported outcomes after spine surgery.
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