Study Suggests Lower Costs with Virtual Physical Therapy

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Presentation shows urgent care, ER visits as risk factors

According to a poster presented at the recent American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Annual Meeting, patients participating in virtual physical therapy after total knee arthroplasty had lowered health care costs and comparable effectiveness when compared with usual care.

Over 300 patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty were randomly assigned by Richard C. Mather, III, MD, MBA, and colleagues to participate in either a virtual physical therapy program with an avatar coach, in-home 3-D biometrics and tele-rehabilitation or usual physical therapy care in the home or outpatient clinic.

Results showed 95 percent of patients completed the trial, equally distributed between those receiving virtual physical therapy and receiving usual care. They found lower costs among patients who underwent virtual physical therapy. Patients undergoing usual care had mean costs that were $2,745 higher compared with virtual physical therapy, which researchers noted was driven by a higher number of urgent care and emergency room visits, as well as more inpatient post-acute care stays.

“The results further underscore the role of value-based payment models in creating incentives for providers to utilize cost-saving care management models with digital health technology,” Mather concluded.

Reference: Bettger J, et al. Poster 229. Presented at: American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Annual Meeting; Nov. 1-4, 2018; Dallas.

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Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.

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