A recent study revealed that prehabilitation, or physical therapy, performed before joint replacement surgery can diminish the need for postoperative care by nearly 30%, saving an average of $1,215 per patient in postoperative care. For the study, which utilized Medicare claims data, researchers were able to identify both preoperative physical therapy and postoperative care usage patterns for 4,733 total hip replacement (THR) and total knee replacement (TKR) patients.

Postoperative, or post-acute care, was defined as the use of a home health agency, skilled nursing facility, or inpatient rehabilitation center within 90 days after hospital discharge. Home health agency services included physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, skilled nursing care, medical social services, and home health aides. A Digital Journal news report notes that approximately 77% of patients utilized care services following surgery.

The Digital Journal news report indicates that after adjusting for demographic characteristics and comorbidities, patients receiving preoperative physical therapy showed a 29% reduction in use of postoperative care. The results of the study also showed that 54.2% of the preoperative physical therapy group required postoperative care services compared to 79.7% of the patients who did not have preoperative therapy.

The decline in postoperative care services resulted in an adjusted cost reduction of $1,215 per patient, largely due to lower costs for home health agency and skilled nursing facility care, as indicated on the Digital Journal news report. Preoperative physical therapy cost an average of $100 per patient, which was generally limited to one or two sessions.

Ray Wasielewski, MD, co-author of the study, states, “This study demonstrated an important opportunity to pre-empt postoperative outcome variances by implementing preoperative physical therapy along with management of comorbidities before and during surgery.”

[Source: Digital Journal]