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Congratulations Joseph D. Smucker, MD as he was selected as an Honoree of the IBJ Health Care Hero Award, Physician category.

Dr. Joseph Smucker is a distinguished spine surgeon with the Indiana Spine Group, but he is also noted for his skills as a mentor, instructor and a researcher responsible for notable advances in spinal care.

A big proponent of education and mentorship, Smucker is a leader in the Indiana Spine Group Fellowship program and teaches physician assistant students from local and regional programs. His leadership positions include serving as chief of surgery at Indiana Spine Hospital and as president of medical staff at Ascension Carmel Hospital. He also serves on the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He vigorously promotes teamwork and consistently attributes success to collaboration among the myriad specialties needed not just for a successful surgery but also for a smooth recovery.

He also created the Indiana Spine Registry—a digital storehouse containing clinical data about many thousands of Hoosier spinal cases. That ever-growing fund of knowledge is configured as a searchable database practitioners can use to discover what works, what doesn’t, and under what circumstances. The system is connected with the American Spine Registry and the Cervical Spine Research Society Registry, contributing to an even larger information pool.

“I love clinical trials, but they can take five to 10 years to mature, and you’re only trying to answer one question,” Smucker said. “Now, with a registry, you’re saying, ‘Here’s my patient population as a whole. Let’s collect meaningful data from all of them, and then we can go back and ask meaningful questions over time that perhaps we haven’t even thought of today.”