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Chris Scott: Pioneering Orthopedic Care with Passion and Purpose

Back pain is frustratingly common - almost everyone will experience it at some point in their lives. The pain varies from person to person, ranging from mild to severe, short-lived to long-lasting when you’re dealing with back pain, whether as a result of overuse, injury, or genetics, you’re undoubtedly looking for one thing.


Relief. 


Spine Colorado has been providing back pain relief in the Four Corners region for more than 20 years. Their multidisciplinary team of physiatrists and surgeons work together to provide relief on a patient-by-patient basis with a full spectrum of spine health services. With this patient-centric model, Spine Colorado ensures every patient receives a tailored treatment plan designed to restore mobility and improve quality of life.


At the helm of Spine Colorado is CEO Chris Scott, who has been leading the organization with a unique blend of passion, innovation, and dedication to patient-centered care. Under his leadership, Spine Colorado continues to uphold its legacy of excellence in spine health care, ensuring that every patient receives personalized, multidisciplinary treatment aimed at providing relief and improving quality of life.


A Winding Path to Medicine


Chris Scott has been captaining the Spine Colorado ship as CEO since 2017 - but the route there was anything but conventional. “Most of my professional background before I worked in healthcare was in the outdoor sports industry,” Scott recalls. While working towards his master’s degree at the University of Colorado, Denver, he spent his early career managing bike shops. Scott worked for Vail Resorts in their retail sports division and also had a stint with Wheat Ridge Cyclery, a company previously owned by seven-time Tour de France rider Ron Kiefel, supporting both local and international cyclists.


Despite his success in the outdoor sports arena, Scott felt the pull towards a more stable “adult” job on his return to Durango. “My father’s actually a retired Orthopedic Surgeon, he worked here in Durango for 30 years.” With family and friends in the industry, Scott made the transition into healthcare via a marketing role at Mercy Medical Center. It was in this role that he developed a passion for community outreach and patient care, a shift that would eventually lead him to run the orthopedic clinic at Mercy and collaborate on joint projects with Spine Colorado. When the opportunity arose to lead Spine Colorado, Scott was ready for the challenge, “When my predecessor retired, she reached out to me and said, Hey, would you like to have a conversation with these guys? It was fortuitous timing in my personal life. I’ve now been with Spine Colorado for over six years and it’s been incredibly fulfilling professionally and personally.” 


There’s No “I” in Team-Based Care


Under Scott’s leadership, Spine Colorado has continued to embrace a multidisciplinary approach to spine care. This team-based model includes advanced practice providers, physiatrists, and surgeons working together to prioritize patient care. “The way our physician assistants, psychiatrists, and surgeons coordinate care to treat patients is truly unique and special. Often, patients feel like they are shuffled between different offices and cannot fully explore all their treatment options. In contrast, we offer a distinct experience by focusing on providing comprehensive care. This is rare in a lot of environments, but especially in medicine,” Scott explains.


This continuum of care includes an approach toward conservative treatment and non-operative interventions, “90% of patients with back pain can be treated without any kind of operative intervention,” Scott explains. Spine Colorado matches patients with the least invasive treatment plans possible, offering a range of non-invasive treatments and injections along with surgical options. This philosophy empowers patients to make informed decisions about their care and ensures they receive the most appropriate treatment. “We are also fortunate enough to do most of our injections in office for people, which can save patients a huge amount of money versus having it done at an Ambulatory Surgical Center.”


And speaking of finances…


One of Scott’s contributions has been the creation of patient financial programs. These programs focus on transparency, education, and alleviating financial stress for patients. “There have been recent laws enacted, like the No Surprises Act, where patients are allowed to ask basically anyone for an estimate. [Spine Colorado] was doing that a long time before it was a legal requirement. Part of that is empowering patients to make their own healthcare decisions…” Scott explains, “And that's really the most important part - it's good for our business, our communication with patients, our relationship with patients, all those things. But the true benefit of these programs is focusing on helping to educate our patients.” By providing upfront cost estimates and helping patients understand their insurance benefits, Spine Colorado ensures patients are fully engaged in their healthcare decisions, both clinically and financially.


Maximizing Care with Cutting-Edge Practices and Continuous Training


In the rapidly evolving field of spine health care, technology plays a crucial role in enhancing patient care. Spine Colorado has been proactive in integrating advanced technologies into both operational and clinical practices. The use of navigation in the surgical suite and new non-operative techniques for pain management are just a few examples of how technology is transforming patient outcomes.


Scott emphasizes the importance of patient-centered care, where technology serves to enhance communication and treatment outcomes rather than replace doctor-patient interaction. Spine Colorado’s dedication to research and development is evident in their ongoing collaborations on clinical trials and medical device development. Scott explains, “Where we have historically found value is in giving our patients access to cutting-edge care, some that might not even be fully approved yet in the example of medical device development.” These initiatives not only provide patients with access to the latest treatments but also keep the surgical team at the forefront of medical advancements through continuous training and exposure to new techniques. “It keeps our surgical team fresh,” Scott says.


Empowering Healthcare Professionals


Scott’s journey into healthcare was driven by a genuine desire to help people, a sentiment he believes is essential for anyone aspiring to join the field. “Aspiring healthcare professionals need to have an interest and drive to help people, care for people,” he advises. “So much of medicine is a calling, but engaging with and helping your fellow humans has got to be at the core of why you’re doing it.” This ethos is reflected in Spine Colorado’s hiring practices, where the key quality sought in all staff members, from surgeons to office personnel, is their fit with the organization’s patient-centered culture.


Scott strives to be involved in every interview, ensuring that each new team member shares the same commitment to patient care. “You know, one of the things I feel really passionately about is finding the right people to join our team,” he explains. He believes that while training can address skill gaps, the inherent personality and cultural fit of a person cannot be taught. “Training gaps exist regardless of how much experience someone has when you go to a new office or when you're brand new to any kind of new position, right? So we do our best to hire people who are engaged and interested and fit within our team. And I think it's helped us build a culture where everyone from our front desk to our MA's to our physician team understands that they're here to help provide care for patients.” This focus on building a cohesive, compassionate team has fostered a culture of collaboration and excellence at Spine Colorado, benefiting both patients and staff.


Rooted in Durango: A Commitment to Community and Care


Chris Scott’s connection to Durango runs deep, “I was fortunate enough to grow up in Durango. After I graduated from Fort Lewis College I decided to go do some other stuff. I lived in various parts of the country, on the front range of Colorado, and I was able to travel a fair amount, but I never found any place that I wanted to call home quite like Durango.” What does he love about it? The outdoors, for one thing - and specifically mountain biking. Despite his demanding role, he makes time to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and engage in the community. “We’re so fortunate to live in this part of the world where we have all this sunshine and the ability to go outside, even in the middle of winter.” 


Spine Colorado’s support for local initiatives, such as youth sports teams, reflects Scott’s commitment to giving back to the community. By sponsoring events like Team Segment 28 in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Spine Colorado not only promotes healthy, active lifestyles but also strengthens its ties with the community. “At Spine Colorado, we don’t have a traditional marketing budget - a lot of our marketing is really focused on giving back to our community. I think everyone on our team, our physicians, PAs, they’ve all trained and worked in other places, but chosen to come here to practice medicine. They feel fortunate to be here so a core of their belief is giving back to our community. We give back to various organizations, some of which are sports oriented such as Team Segment 28, and a plethora of non-profits from the La Plata County Humane Society to the Adult Education Center.


Maintaining the Legacy of Spine Colorado


Chris Scott’s leadership at Spine Colorado is marked by a visionary approach to patient care, innovative strategies, and a deep-seated passion for making a positive impact. By prioritizing multidisciplinary, team-based care and leveraging advanced technology, Scott has helped spine healthcare Spine Colorado, ensuring that patients receive comprehensive, compassionate, and cutting-edge treatment.


So what’s next?


“The aspirations for Spine Colorado are really to continue to build on what we have done - but that means we need to continuously evolve. There’s no sitting here and just doing the same thing we’ve been doing for 20 years. It’s challenging ourselves, growing, providing new ways to deliver care, and really engaging with our patients and our community. If we can do those things and continue to push ourselves to provide those new services, that’ll be a great success for us.”


Scott’s journey from the outdoor sports industry to healthcare leadership is a testament to his adaptability, passion, and commitment to making a difference. Under his guidance, Spine Colorado continues to thrive, providing exceptional care and innovative solutions to patients while fostering a culture of excellence and collaboration among its team members. Scott’s visionary leadership not only advances orthopedic care but also strengthens the community ties that make Durango a special place to live and work.


Ready to experience cutting-edge care and compassionate service at Spine Colorado? Schedule your appointment today and take the first step toward a healthier, more active life. 



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