UnitedHealth: Moving total joints to ASCs could yield $3B in annual savings

Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth Group on Dec. 10 published new research touting the major advantages of moving routine joint replacements from hospitals to ASCs.

Five key insights from the report:

1. Shifting half of all routine joint replacements from hospital inpatient settings to ASCs could yield $3 billion in annual savings — $2 billion for privately insured individuals and employers, and $1 billion in savings for Medicare beneficiaries and the federal government.

2. ASCs are also advantageous in terms of patient safety and low infection risk. Migrating half of all routine inpatient joint replacements to ASCs could result in more than 500,000 fewer hospitalizations.

3. Surgical site infections follow up to 2.5 percent of hospital joint replacements. As a result, as many as 26,000 joint replacement patients each year have longer hospital stays and require further treatment.

4. More than 1.2 million hip and knee replacement surgeries were performed in the U.S. in 2019. In 2018, about 90 percent of joint replacement surgeries for privately insured patients were performed in hospitals.

5. UnitedHealth Group conducted a case study of Birmingham, Ala.-based Surgical Care Affiliates, which operates over 230 ASCs in the U.S. At SCA centers that performed 25 or more joint replacements in 2019, for every 1,000 patients receiving a hip or knee replacement in 2018 or 2019:

  • 993 patients were infection-free and discharged without requiring a hospital visit
  • Four patients required a hospital visit within 24 hours of discharge, including visits for underlying conditions
  • Fewer than 0.3 percent of patients developed a surgical site infection

"Because ASCs specialize in the procedures they perform, they can concentrate on optimizing safety and quality outcomes for patients," UnitedHealth Group's research concluded. "ASCs with established joint replacement programs are operating safe, scalable models that achieve high-quality results for knee and hip replacement surgeries."

Click here to download the report, and click here for the research methodology and citations.

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