This study aims to determine the perspectives of patients seeking spine care in regard to physician ownership of surgical facilities and to understand the importance of disclosing financial conflicts. There has been limited investigation regarding patient perceptions of the proprietary structure of surgical facilities. Patients seeking treatment for spine pathology completed an 8-item survey. The questions assessed if patients acknowledged the owners of surgical facilities, if the patient thought knowledge of ownership is important, who they perceived as most qualified to own surgical facilities, preference of communication of ownership, and impact of facility ownership on care.

A total of 200 patients completed the survey. When patients were asked whom they thought owned the hospital, most reported private hospital corporations followed by universities/medical schools and insurance companies. With regard to whom patients thought owned an ambulatory surgical center, most reported physicians, followed by private hospital corporations and individual investors. When asked how important it is to know the financial stakeholders of a surgical facility, 73.5% of patients stated “very important” or “somewhat important.” Most patients reported they were not aware of who owned the facility. Regarding how facility owners should be communicated, 31.0% answered “written document,” whereas 25.0% preferred verbal communication with the staff/surgeon. When asked how much impact the owner of a surgical facility has on their care, 38.0% of patients responded, “strong impact,” followed by “moderate impact,” (43.0%), and “little or no impact” (19.0%). Patients thought that physicians were the most qualified to own an ambulatory surgical center, followed by universities/medical schools and private hospital corporations.

The pretreatment perception of patients referred to a spine clinic favored the opinion that physicians were the most qualified to own and manage surgical facilities. Therefore, physicians should be encouraged to share disclosures with patients as their ownership of surgical facilities is viewed favorably.