At the forefront of health care in the High Country |

At the forefront of health care in the High Country

A Q&A with Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery CEO John Polikandriotis, PhD, MBA, MPH, FACHE, FACMPE

By Lauren Glendenning
For The Summit Daily

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery

Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery CEO John Polikandriotis
Courtesy Photo

What are some of the changes you’re most proud of since taking the helm at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery in 2016?

John Polikandriotis: Since 2016, VSON has added two new physicians, including Dr. Ernest Braxton, Eagle and Summit County’s first neurosurgeon, as well as Dr. Matthew Gnirke, an interventional sports, spine and regenerative medicine physician. VSON also just signed a new surgeon who will be Summit County based scheduled to start this October.

VSON implemented Summit County’s first after-hours and weekend orthopaedic urgent care and walk-in clinic in Frisco where patients get an immediate diagnosis by orthopaedic specialists at a price point that is cheaper than an ER visit.

VSON also continues to surgically innovate. We recently introduced revolutionary minimally invasive wide-awake spine and hand surgeries so our patients get back to doing what they love sooner.

What do you love most about your job at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery?

JP:  I love that improving the lives of patients and being a key, supportive community partner are integral parts of our core mission and values.  I feel honored that VSON supports local non-profits and businesses and is the proud medical affiliate of organizations such as Summit High School, Team Summit, Team Breckenridge and the Breckenridge Vipers.  Plus, working in a community that I adore, with such dedicated patient-centric employees and innovative, high-quality physicians is my definition of success. 

When the American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE) selected you as “Practice Executive of the Year in 2018,” Dr. William Sterett remarked that you’re “one of those guys who can multitask a million different things and have them all under control.” How do you remain so focused and organized in such a high stakes/fast-paced environment?

JP: It was a real honor to receive national recognition from AAOE on my work done here in the Colorado High Country! My ability to adapt to health care’s ever-changing environment comes from having the self-discipline to concentrate on the things I know I can control. VSON’s mission is to do what’s right for our community, our patients, and our employees, and focusing on those things helps me simplify our initiatives. It also helps that when I start feeling overwhelmed, living in the mountains means I can take an hour to snowboard and clear my mind!

You were selected as the 2020 president of the Colorado Association of Healthcare Executives (CAHE) — please tell us a little about CAHE and your duties as president this year.

JP: CAHE is a not-for-profit organization with over 1,000 members representing health care executives in the states of Colorado and Wyoming. CAHE is run by a volunteer board, and my duty as president is to lead the organization in offering educational events that provide relevant information on health care trends and professional development opportunities for our members at both a local and national level.

Are you spearheading any exciting CAHE initiatives in 2020? Please describe.

JP: This past January, CAHE partnered with the Colorado Healthcare Strategy and Management organization to co-host a government affairs panel discussion where political insiders discussed health care policy and federal level dynamics that may impact Colorado’s health care environment.

On March 3, CAHE is partnering with the CU Denver Business School for a panel discussion on the impacts of diversity and inclusion in health care and ongoing efforts to improve quality of care, encourage diversity in leadership roles, and reduce disparities in health care outcomes.

On April 16, CAHE is hosting its annual student career night where health care executives from around Colorado help students prepare for their future careers in health care.

Lastly, on May 7-8, CAHE is hosting its two-day annual conference where health care leaders will come together to discuss innovation in health care and ways to improve the health status of our local communities. 

In addition to CAHE, are there any organizations or causes for which you volunteer and why? 

JP: Health care is a fragmented and complicated industry, so in addition to my day job, volunteering my time and expertise is a way for me to give back and engage in finding ways to evolve health care to be a little simpler and more manageable. 

I’ve recently volunteered with Project CURE, which is an organization that sorts, processes, and prepares donated medical products for international distribution to assist children, families, individuals, and communities.

I also volunteer in the American College of Healthcare Executives mentor program which provides me an opportunity to play a direct role in the development of the next generation of health care leaders.

What else would you like readers to know about VSON?

JP: I am proud to announce that VSON is a finalist to win the 2020 AAOE Orthopaedic Practice of the Year award. This national award recognizes excellence and innovation in orthopaedics, and the winner will be announced this May at AAOE’s national conference in San Diego.

I am also proud to announce that I was invited to be a speaker at AAOE’s national conference, as well as Becker’s Ambulatory Surgical Center Annual Conference in Chicago in October, where I will be presenting on leadership effectiveness, dealing with burnout, and employee engagement. Lastly, I would like the readers to know that I want to be a resource and partner. Please feel free to reach out at

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