Going home the same day you get a new hip or knee: Patients like it, but it hits hospital finances

That outpatient trend is not new, but it has accelerated at a time when hospital finances are already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and rising labor costs.

When a Rothman Orthopaedic Institute surgeon replaced Kathryn Patterson’s left hip in May 2021, the North Cape May resident was part of a massive shift in the way joint replacements are done.

The 78-year-old arrived at the AtlantiCare surgery center in Egg Harbor Township at 7 a.m. the day of her surgery and was back home in the middle of the afternoon. Her only rehab, which she completed with the help of her son, consisted of walking for 10 minutes every hour.

“It was a great experience,” Patterson said recently. “I went in with pain, and I came out with no pain. It’s been like that ever since.”

At the Philadelphia-based Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, which is among the largest orthopedic groups in the United States, speedy outpatient joint replacements like Patterson’s are rapidly becoming the norm — replacing the traditional inpatient stays after surgery and adding to the extraordinary financial strain hospitals are under.

In the first half of this year, 73% of Rothman’s hip and knee replacements were outpatient, compared with just 14% outpatient in the first half of 2019. That change comes with significant savings. Between 2019 and last year, the average cost to a private insurer of a total joint replacement at Rothman fell to $25,001 from $36,433, according to Rothman data.

Driving the move to outpatient surgeries, which typically cost 30% to 40% less than the same surgery done on an inpatient basis, have been changes in Medicare rules, the general shift away from hospital-based care — in overdrive during the coronavirus pandemic — and long-developing improvements in medical care.

By Harold Brubaker | The Inquirer

Image Credit: Vernon Ogrodnek

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About Peter Coffaro 448 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the orthopedic industry. Recognized by MedReps.com and the World Journal of Orthopedics as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager, Distributor and Vice President. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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