Evaluation of a collaborative ambulatory orthopedic care program for patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis: a comparative observational cohort study

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 Aug 3;23(1):740. doi: 10.1186/s12891-022-05697-9.


Background: In 2014, the novel orthopedic care program was established by the AOK health insurance fund in southern Germany to improve ambulatory care for patients with musculoskeletal disorders. The program offers extended consultation times, structured collaboration between general practitioners and specialists, as well as a renewed focus on guideline-recommended therapies and patient empowerment. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of the program on health service utilization in patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods: This retrospective cohort study, which is based on claims data, evaluated health service utilization in patients with hip and knee OA from 2014 to 2017. The intervention group comprised OA patients enrolled in collaborative ambulatory orthopedic care, and the control group received usual care. The outcomes were participation in exercise interventions, prescription of physical therapy, OA-related hospitalization, and endoprosthetic surgery rates. Generalized linear regression models were used to analyze the effect of the intervention.

Results: Claims data for 24,170 patients were analyzed. Data for the 23,042 patients in the intervention group were compared with data for the 1,128 patients in the control group. Participation in exercise interventions (Odds Ratio (OR): 1.781; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.230-2.577; p = 0.0022), and overall prescriptions of physical therapy (Rate Ratio (RR): 1.126; 95% CI: 1.025-1.236; p = 0.0128) were significantly higher in the intervention group. The intervention group had a significantly lower risk of OA -related hospitalization (OR: 0.375; 95% CI: 0.290-0.485; p < 0.0001). Endoprosthetic surgery of the knee was performed in 53.8% of hospitalized patients in the intervention group vs. 57.5% in the control group; 27.7% of hospitalized patients underwent endoprosthetic surgery of the hip in the intervention group versus 37.0% in the control group.

Conclusions: In patients with hip and knee OA, collaborative ambulatory orthopedic care is associated with a lower risk of OA-related hospitalization, higher participation in exercise interventions, and more frequently prescribed physical therapy.

Keywords: Collaborative care; Health service utilization; Hospitalization risk; Multivariable analysis; Osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip* / rehabilitation
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip* / surgery
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / rehabilitation
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies