Implementing a Geriatric Fracture Program in a Mixed Practice Environment Reduces Total Cost and Length of Stay

Geriatr Orthop Surg Rehabil. 2021 Feb 23;12:2151459320987701. doi: 10.1177/2151459320987701. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Geriatric-orthopaedic co-management models can improve patient outcomes. However, prior reports have been at large academic centers with "closed" systems and an inpatient geriatric service. Here we describe a Geriatric Fracture Program (GFP) in a mixed practice "pluralistic" environment that includes employed academic faculty, private practice physicians, and multiple private hospitalist groups. We hypothesized GFP enrollment would reduce length of stay (LOS), time to surgery (TTS), and total hospital costs compared to non-GFP patients.

Materials and methods: A multidisciplinary team was created around a geriatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) and consulting geriatrician. Standardized geriatric focused training programs and electronic tools were developed based on best practice guidelines. Fracture patients >65 years old were prospectively enrolled from July 2018 - June 2019. A trained biostatistician performed all statistical analyses. A p < 0.05 was considered significant.

Results: 564 operative and nonoperative fractures in patients over 65 were prospectively followed with 153 (27%) enrolled in the GFP and 411 (73%) admitted to other hospitalists or their primary care provider (non-GFP). Patients enrolled in the GFP had a significantly shorter median LOS of 4 days, compared to 5 days in non-GFP patients (P < 0.001). There was a strong trend towards a shorter median TTS in the GFP group (21.5 hours v 25 hours, p = 0.066). Mean total costs were significantly lower in the GFP group ($25,323 v $29085, p = 0.022).

Discussion: Our data shows that a geriatric-orthopaedic co-management model can be successfully implemented without an inpatient geriatric service, utilizing the pre-existing resources in a complex environment. The program can be expanded to include additional groups to improve care for entire geriatric fracture population with significant anticipated cost savings.

Conclusions: With close multidisciplinary team work, a successful geriatric-orthopaedic comanagement model for geriatric fractures can be implemented in even a mixed practice environment without an inpatient geriatrics service.

Keywords: fragility fractures; geriatric medicine; geriatric nursing; geriatric trauma; hospitalist.