Data from a pilot study of 25 patients who underwent primary anatomical TSA for osteoarthritis and 25 patients who underwent primary RSA for massive rotator cuff tear allowed us to generate graphical representations of a single surgeon’s practice patterns that most affected the cost of care. Time in holding, time in the operating room, time in the postanesthesia care unit, and percentage of patients receiving different medications were recorded for each procedure (Figures 2–11). The study did not capture the wide variances in practice patterns in shoulder arthroplasty, and therefore other surgeons’ resource utilization may differ from ours. However, replicating this methodology at other institutions will produce a more robust data set from which conclusions about resource utilization and, indirectly, cost of care can be made.
5. Future possibilities
By using existing EMR tools to better understand resource utilization, orthopedic surgeons can play a constructive role in the dialogue on health care costs and new reimbursement models. The data presented here are not meant to be interpreted as hard and fast numbers on global resource utilization, but instead we intend to establish a model for collecting data on resource utilization. Resource utilization begins the dialogue that allows orthopedic surgeons and specialty societies to speak a common language without discussing actual cost numbers, which is discouraged under antitrust regulation. The data presented will allow comparisons to be made between surgeons in all practice settings to highlight areas of inconsistency in order to further improve patient care. Although this work involved only 50 patients undergoing only 2 types of surgeries, the resource-capturing methodology can be expanded to include more procedures and orthopedic practices. As all hospitals are now required to have EMRs, the metrics tracked in this work can be found on any patient medical record and auto-populated using our open-source utilization forms. Starting this data collection at your hospital may require no more than a conversation with the informatics department, as the metrics can for the most part be populated into a database on surgeon request.
As orthopedic surgeons return to the economic health care discussion, this information could prove essential in helping the individual surgeon and the orthopedic community justify the cost of care as well as fully understand the cost drivers for musculoskeletal care.