- MSK disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting the physical, financial and emotional well-being of millions of Americans each year (Figure 1).
- Currently employed workers in the U.S. miss nearly 440 million days of work annually because of MSK injuries.
- The study’s findings demonstrate that appropriate treatment for specific MSK conditions is associated with net economic benefits to society and has the potential to significantly reduce indirect costs.
- This model is currently being applied to several orthopaedic procedures in an effort to highlight the value of high-quality orthopaedic care.
A Novel Approach in Quantifying the Value of Health Care Procedures and Treatments
Bone and muscle injuries, commonly referred to as musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders, cause pain, loss of physical function and decline in mental health, all of which adversely affect a person’s productivity or ability to go to work or find employment. Current health trends, such as an aging population, increased obesity rates and sedentary lifestyles, will exacerbate the problem.
While many studies have quantified the burden of MSK disorders and cost-effectiveness of orthopaedic care, few studies have addressed the value treatment provides to workers, their families and employers. In an increasingly cost- and value-conscious health care environment, researchers from IHS Global Inc and KNG Health Consulting conducted research to uncover the economic costs and benefits of a variety of common procedures and services to show the complete picture of the value of orthopaedic treatment*. “Modeling the Indirect Economic Implications of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Treatment” can be found in the March 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed health economic journal Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation.
Measuring the Value of Orthopaedic Care: Study Approach and Key Findings
By modeling the relationship between bone and joint health limitations and economic outcomes, the AAOS estimated the overall value – including impact on a comprehensive set of indirect costs – of orthopaedic surgery procedures using publicly available information to create an index that estimated the impact of specific orthopaedic surgery procedures on physical limitations and indirect costs.
Value is defined by whether a person can remain productively employed; avoid payments for disability or long term care; avoid expenditures related to reduced mobility; and improve overall quality of life.
This published research suggests that:
- Physical impairments associated with MSK disorders reduce the likelihood of employment and household income, as well as increase missed work days and disability pay for those who are employed.
- Appropriate treatment for specific MSK conditions is associated with net economic benefits to society and has the potential to significantly reduce indirect costs.
Findings from this study and the model that was used to determine the value of treatment will be applied to other orthopaedic procedures. Please check for updates in the coming months.
*This study was funded by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who developed the methodology research?
AAOS in collaboration with research partners KNG Health Consulting, LLC (KNG Health) and its partner, IHS Global, Inc. (IHS).
- What is the purpose of the research and why is it important?
This methodology research aims to demonstrate the social and economic value of orthopaedic surgery and to provide health economic data on the benefits of treatment. It is critical to assess the value of common health services and procedures in an increasingly cost conscious health care environment.
- What data was used to assess the economic value of orthopaedic surgery and how was it analyzed?
Using the National Health Information Survey data from more than 185,000 people and data from existing clinical research, researchers developed a unique method to analyze the data and estimate the overall value, including the impact on indirect costs, of specific orthopaedic procedures.
- What makes this methodology paper different from other research?
Many studies have quantified the burden of MSK disorders and cost-effectiveness of treatment, but few studies address the economic value of services provided to treat these disorders. This research looks at indirect costs, or the costs not directly associated with the medical treatment but posed by the condition, such as the ability to work, receiving disability, etc.
- What did the research conclude?
The methodology research found that appropriate treatment of MSK disorders has the potential to significantly reduce indirect costs. Physical impairments associated with MSK disorders reduce the likelihood of employment and household income, and increase missed work days and the likelihood of receiving supplemental income for disability for those who are employed.
- How will the research be used in the future and what is its impact on health care costs?
Our hope is that the findings from this study and the model that was used to determine the value of treatment can also be applied to other medical procedures to educate policymakers and ultimately ensure we are receiving maximum value for health care dollars spent.