What is the Best Strategy to Minimize After-Care Costs for Total Joint Arthroplasty in a Bundled Payment Environment?

J Arthroplasty. 2016 Dec;31(12):2710-2713. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2016.05.024. Epub 2016 May 20.


Background: The post-acute care strategies after lower extremity total joint arthroplasty including the use of post-acute rehabilitation centers and home therapy services are associated with different costs. Providers in bundled payment programs are incentivized to use the most cost-effective strategies.

Methods: We used decision analysis to examine the impact of extending the inpatient hospital stay to avoid discharge of patients to a post-acute rehabilitation facility.

Results: The results of this decision analysis show that extended acute hospital care for up to 5.2 extra days to allow for home discharge, rather than discharge to a post-acute inpatient facility can be financially preferable, provided quality is not negatively impacted.

Conclusion: The data demonstrate that because the cost of additional acute care hospital days is relatively small and because the cost of an extended post-acute inpatient rehabilitation facility is high, keeping patients in the acute facility for a few extra days and then discharging them directly to home may result in an overall lower cost than discharge after a shorter hospital stay to an expensive post-acute facility. However, this approach will have challenges, and future studies are needed to evaluate this change in strategy.

Keywords: bundled payment; cost-effectiveness; discharge disposition; length of stay; total joint arthroplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement / economics*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement / rehabilitation
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / economics
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / economics*
  • Patient Care Bundles / economics
  • Patient Discharge / economics*
  • Subacute Care / economics*