There are many economic benefits to having certified outreach athletic trainers (ATC) as a type of physician extender in an orthopaedic provider and/or hospital system setting, according to a study.

The study was presented recently at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s annual meeting.

“The affiliation between high school and community sports teams and orthopaedists through an ATC in that setting is a unique and sustainable relationship that provides economic benefits to the health care system and to the patient,” says its lead researcher, Jeannie Buckner from the Medical University of South Carolina, in a media release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

In the study, Buckner and her team performed a retrospective economic analysis from 2012-2015 that included new referrals, billable patient encounters, and corresponding revenue generated exclusively from the ATC referral program. The data was assembled from an aggregate business analysis that included both physician group and hospital billing.

The existing ATC program provides full athletic team coverage for eight local high schools, two professional teams, four semi-professional teams, one collegiate club team, and four youth club teams, per the release.

The results illustrate that of 8,570 billable patient encounters, 843 patients were referred into the system, yielding $2,283,733 in total revenue. New patients accounted for 187 individuals and 1,602 billable patient encounters. On average, each patient generated 10.17 billable patient encounters. Combining revenue from both professional-based and hospital-based services yielded an average of $2,712 per patient that came through the ATC program within the 4-year period, the release explains.

“This model of having an ATC as an outreach support is not only economically viable for the health system, but is also a great example for coordinated and improved care in the community,” Buckner states in the release. “Providing more comprehensive care during practices and games may also help minimize future injuries and keep kids involved in athletics for longer, which in turn may lower chronic medical conditions in adulthood.”

[Source(s): American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Science Daily]