Home Health Leads to Higher Costs After Hip Surgery, Study Finds

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News | By Rachael Zimlich
Home healthcare services provided after hospital discharge have, in general, been associated with reduced healthcare cost and utilization. A new study examining costs after hip replacement surgery hints that such benefits may be exaggerated.
In a new study published in the Journal of Arthroplasty, researchers examined the home healthcare service records of patients who underwent elective hip replacements between 2010 and 2019. The goal was to determine the value of home health services to patients who were discharged to their homes after a total hip replacement.
The home health care group had a higher rate of emergency department visits and hospital readmissions in the initial 90-day post-operative period than the self-care group, researchers found. Length of hospital stays and total cost of care a year out from surgery was also higher in the home health care group, according to the report.
As part of the study, investigators examined rates of complications such as joint infection and hardware problems for a year after surgery. The primary medical complications observed in the post-operative period were fairly common to other surgeries and included pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, myocardial infarction, pneumonia, sepsis and urinary tract infection.
The study also found there was no significant difference in the development of these complications in the study group discharged with home health care services and the study group that was discharged to their own care.
Researchers say the study challenges previously held notions that home healthcare services after hospital discharge are associated with cost savings across the board. Instead, the study suggests that more research be done to examine patient-specific discharge needs, focusing the use of home healthcare services on the most at-risk population instead of assigning this level of care in a one-size-fits all strategy based on a specific diagnosis or procedure type.