Eric Schnapp, MBA, JD, CEO-Mays & Schnapp Pain Clinic & Rehabilitation Center
When Dr. Kit S. Mays and Dr. Moacir Schnapp, pioneers in the field of pain management, first established the Mays & Schnapp Pain Clinic and Rehabilitation Center in 1985, Schnapp's son Eric was only two years old. In 2019, Eric Schnapp, MBA, JD, stepped into the role of CEO at Mays & Schnapp - after first following a career path that led him through experiences in entrepreneurship as well as healthcare law and pharmaceutical and medical device product liability litigation in nationally recognized legal departments..
Armed with an MBA from Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, and a JD from Emory University School of Law, he has served as district attorney special prosecutor, litigated numerous trials across the country, and has managed and operated businesses in addition to creating and managing his own "Media Butler" enterprise, which created customized audio-visual media rooms for corporate presentations.
"Growing up with this clinic," Schnapp reflects, "participating in dinner table conversations every night, I had always enjoyed science and, later, working with healthcare cases; but what was lacking for me at the law firm was the business side of things. I was still very much an entrepreneur and very much enjoyed the business aspect of it, so I wanted to marry those two together."
The opportunity arose when he joined Mays & Schnapp in 2019. "I had always counseled them throughout the years with my knowledge of health, law, and business, but that was unofficial - until we recently decided to make it official."
The timing was right: For nearly 35 years, he points out, this was a practice with two physicians and an administrator. "It wasn't big enough to warrant someone operating in a CEO's capacity. But within the past year or two, it has grown to such a proportion that the position itself was needed."
Today, the practice has seven providers, including three physicians; and Schnapp oversees a staff of more than 55, including support personnel across clinical operations, physical therapy, and the ambulatory surgery center. Patient volume continues to grow, which has motivated Mays & Schnapp to locate a new clinic in Southaven, scheduled to open within the next two months.
The greatest challenge he faces, says Schnapp, is continuing to grow and expand care to additional patients while still maintaining the philosophy that has made Mays & Schnapp the oldest and most highly-regarded pain management facility in the Mid-South.
That philosophy holds that chronic pain is best treated using a multimodal approach that includes a number of non-opioid therapies in concert with each other to provide the best possible pain relief. Since no two patients are alike, successful solutions often require a unique combination of modalities, including physical therapy and clinical methods.
"Keeping our philosophy is important," Schnapp stresses. "Spending time with our patient is what differentiates us from other places."
Accredited in 1989 by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), today Mays & Schnapp is the only outpatient interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation program in Tennessee and the tri-state region to maintain that accreditation. The founders' early success was built on their pioneering work in designing, developing and producing rehabilitation instruments including the iPosture, an electronic posture-correcting device, as well as the first computer-assisted therapies for the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Like his father, Eric Schnapp enjoys problem-solving. "That was always a hobby of mine and Dr. Schnapp's since I was little," he recalled "We invented probably a thousand new devices or businesses, just the two of us - just sitting and talking."
It's a habit that supports the Mays & Schnapp longstanding commitment to finding ways to help their patients, whether traditional conventional ways or creating something new.
That "something new" is often a combination of components that work best together to generate the greatest impact on pain: e.g. spinal cord stimulators interacting with nerve blocks, in concert with a regimen of physical therapy.
After a rigorous vetting process by the unit's creators, Mays & Schnapp was recently approved as one of only two independent sites in the U.S. to perform non-surgical peripheral nerve stimulator (PNS) therapy, used for neuropathic pain, Schnapp noted. PNS benefit patients with hard-to-manage postoperative shoulder or knee pain, post-amputation pain, and patients with mononeuropathies in which pain results from a single damaged nerve.
Has pain evolved along with our lifestyles?
Schnapp notes that while they may see different underlying causes for pain - like carpal tunnel syndrome that was unheard of 50 years ago - pain itself isn't changing.
"Pain will always exist," Schnapp noted. "And ways are needed to help alleviate that pain and improve function for the patients."
Their focus remains on finding new ways of addressing its different forms, which may range from back and neck pain, sciatica, shingles, arthritis, bursitis, RSD, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia to peripheral neuropathy from diabetes.
Has research shown us anything new about pain?
"Last year a Health and Human Services task force put together a large report about pain," Schnapp recalled, "and one of their main findings was that providers should refer to pain earlier. Primary care or other physicians may not necessarily be equipped to understand what's needed and to provide an appropriate level of treatment. Left untreated, chronic pain that continues over time becomes harder to eradicate or alleviate," he warned. "It's very important to address this early, and to refer pain patients sooner rather than later."
Schnapp and his wife - also an attorney - have two children under four who keep them busy, tired, and fit. T0gether they enjoy traveling and exploring: Schnapp has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and taken his family to Morocco, Colombia, the Azores, and more. "If we find a place to go to and there's a non-stop flight, I'll go!"