There has been a downward trend in certain knee procedures for osteoarthritis. According to a recent study published , researchers from Emory University examined the trend in hopes of showing the effectiveness of study evidence and the positive impact it can have on study dollars. This is because the New England Journal of Medicine published many reports between 2002 and 2008 associated with changes in clinical practice patterns.
The study seemed to have an impact on practice patterns, researchers examined ambulatory surgery data from Florida and found that the number of arthroscopic debridement and lavage procedures per 100,000 adults declined by 47 percent between 2001 and 2010. During that period, the New England Journal of Medicine published results from two randomized controlled trials that found no benefit from arthroscopic debridement and lavage procedures. This had a financial impact, as these procedures declined from approximately $83-$138 million annually over this ten-year period.
It seems many patients opted for physical therapy over surgery. This again had a saving impact, as it is calculated that national savings were $39.2 million - $94.3 annually.
The challenge is that physicians in our fee-for-service system have little incentive to abandon these surgeries. The only way a study like this can have a lasting impact is if:
- Physicians have a willingness to abandon unnecessary surgeries
- Patients are willing to take on a new thought process on these types of surgeries
- Better public education to understand the standard of practice and treatment procedures
This study shows that trials and comparative studies that examine widely used therapies with questionable value can have help reduce potential cost. What are your thoughts on this study? Do you think it can have a lasting impact on unnecessary procedures? Share your thoughts below.
Photo Credit: 401(K) 2012