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Morristown Medical Center Orthopedic Trauma Research Team Find Using Mobility Technicians To Promote Early Ambulation After Hip Fracture Surgery Results in Significant Cost-Savings

June 12, 2019

Morristown, NJ – A new study by orthopedic trauma surgeons and their research team at Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center and James C. Wittig, MD, Chairman, Orthopedic Surgery, Morristown Medical Center and Medical Director, Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Oncology and Sarcoma Surgery, Atlantic Health System, found that using mobility technicians under the supervision of licensed physical therapists to ambulate patients after hip fracture surgery may be a cost-effective best practice.

There is a wealth of research that supports the benefits of standing up and walking – ambulating – after hip fracture surgery. In an inpatient facility like a hospital, this is often performed by a licensed physical therapist. Given the demand for their time, high cost and resource restraints, many patients are seen less frequently than they should be.

Mobility technicians are more available, and less expensive than physical therapists. When trained and supervised by physical therapists after the therapist performs an initial patient visit and therapy consultation, technicians can provide many of the same patient rehabilitation services to help ambulate the patient.

“Patients and healthcare providers alike are focused on finding innovative ways to decrease the rapidly rising cost of healthcare while ensuring high quality of care and positive outcomes,” said Dr. Wittig. “This study is a sound example of taking existing resources like mobility technicians and better using their expertise to improve patient outcomes, like discharging them to home, with the added benefit of cost-savings for patient and hospital.”

The study enrolled 30 patients who were treated for acute hip fractures between June and November of 2018 with different surgical techniques: intramedullary nail (12 patients), small metal rods inserted into the bone, hemiarthroplasty (8 patients), a surgical procedure that replaces one half of the hip joint with a prosthetic, while leaving the other half intact, total hip arthroplasty (7 patients), a surgical procedure where the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant, or screw fiction (3 patients), which helps repair fractured bones.

When compared to a control group of 88 patients who received the same surgeries from June to November of 2017, the study showed a cost savings of $84 per day for therapy. Enrollment of the control group patients to the mobility technician program could have resulted in an average total savings of $29,568. The total cost of therapy services was based on two sessions per day and patient length of stay.

Notably, more patients in the study group were discharged home, speaking to the effectiveness of additional therapy. Only 37.5 percent of patients (12/32) from the study group were discharged to a skilled nursing/rehabilitation facility for additional treatment compared to 87.5 (77/88) percent of patients in the control group. Both groups had a similar length of stay at four days.

The study will be presented at the 2019 Orthopaedic Trauma Association Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado from September 26-28, 2019 as poster #81.

About Orthopedics at Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System’s Orthopedic program offers residents of New Jersey and the surrounding areas access to high-quality multidisciplinary treatments that span pre-surgical education through post-operative rehabilitation. With the latest diagnostic technologies and robotic equipment, many of our board-certified surgeons are experts in minimally invasive techniques that result in faster recoveries, greater range of motion, and smaller scars.

Each year, the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute performs more than 4,000 joint replacements and treats more than 1,400 traumatic orthopedic injuries, and US News and World Report recognized Morristown Medical Center as a high-performing hospital for orthopedics in 2018.

Orthopedists at Morristown Medical Center provide assistance caring for patients with complex fractures of the pelvis and upper and lower extremities. For complex sports injuries, Atlantic Sports Health has highly-trained physicians who are experts at diagnosing and treating orthopedic and sports medicine problems and are active participants in academic and research programs. The Orthopedic Oncology program performs limb-sparing surgeries for patients with bone tumors or sarcomas.

For children with orthopaedic needs, orthopedists collaborate with pediatricians from Goryeb Children’s Hospital in all aspects of care, including state-of-the-art diagnostics, surgical treatment and assistive technology.

Atlantic Health System Orthopedics is nationally recognized for its expertise, earning numerous awards and accreditations for its services.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ.

In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey - Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners, which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health needs, including 12 urgent care centersAtlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability, and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system expanding access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.