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Costs for Planned Orthopedic Surgery Have Increased by 44% in 7 years

Posted by Deirdre Wilson on Feb 14, 2019 2:03:05 PM
Deirdre Wilson
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The Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Association recently released a report showing a dramatic leap in costs for planned orthopedic surgeries.

BCBS medical claims data for hip and knee replacement surgeries occurring between 2010 and 2017 revealed several alarming trends:

  1. Spending for planned (elective) knee and hip replacement surgeries for insured adults increased by 44% and comprised 47% of all orthopedic spending.
  1. Both the number and cost of planned knee and hip replacement surgeries increased. The number of knee replacements rose by 17%, with a 6% increase in cost. Hip replacements jumped by 33%, with a 5% increase in cost.
  1. Inpatient surgeries cost much more than outpatient surgeries. In 2017, inpatient knee replacement cost $30,249, compared to $19,002 for outpatient knee replacement.
  1. Planned orthopedic surgeries cost BCBS about $25 billion in 2017. The number of joint replacements increased dramatically, especially among those under age 65.

As the number of orthopedic surgeries continues to climb, healthcare providers may wonder how they can reduce costs and still improve patient outcomes. Is there a way to increase patient satisfaction, and still save money on these expensive procedures?

Patient engagement is the solution. And a simple way to engage patients is digitally, through their mobile devices. Since most patients already use their cell phones on a daily basis, automatically contacting them via text messages and emails throughout their treatment process is a great way to keep them on track. Research has found that post-op emergency room visits and hospital readmissions are less likely for orthopedic surgery patients who hear regularly from their healthcare providers in this way.

Patient engagement tools such as UbiCare’s SmarteXp™ make patient/provider communication simple. SmarteXp™ helps hospitals reduce costs for orthopedic surgeries by targeting issues that often lead to excess spending. One of these issues is the presence of “gaps” in patient care. “Gaps” are periods before and after surgery in which there is no patient-provider communication. SmarteXp™ fills in these gaps with dynamic education, providing the right information at the right time—keeping patients informed and connected at all times.

Patient engagement tools also empower patients to be proactive during their preparation for and recovery from an orthopedic procedure. A recent study with a 4-hospital system proved that digital patient engagement positively impacts cost metrics—including statistically significant reductions in Length of Stay and post-op use of the Emergency Department (meaning there’s little likelihood those reductions were due to chance). Employing digital engagement before, during and after orthopedic surgery results in a higher percentage of successful outcomes and, in turn, lower costs for hospitals. 

Ready to learn more? Check out the results of our newest study on patient engagement that showed significant cost-savings across more than 2,000 patients! 

Topics: Improving Patient Outcomes, Patient Engagement, Healthcare Technology