Wait times, resource use and health-related quality of life across the continuum of care for patients referred for total knee replacement surgery
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BACKGROUND: The escalating socioeconomic burden of knee osteoarthritis (OA) underscores the need for innovative strategies to reduce wait times for total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The purpose of this study was to evaluate resource use, costs and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) across the continuum of care for patients with knee OA. METHODS: This was a prospective study of 383 patients recruited from a high-volume teaching hospital at different stages of care (referral, consultation and presurgery). Outcomes included health care resource use; costs captured from the health care payer, private sector and societal perspectives; HRQoL measured using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index, the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey, and EuroQoL 5-Dimension 5-Level tool; wait times; and the proportion of referrals deemed suitable candidates for surgery. RESULTS: The most commonly used conservative treatments were pharmacotherapy, exercise and lifestyle modification. Forty percent of patients referred for TKA were deemed not to be suitable candidates for surgery. The greatest proportion of costs was borne by the patient or private insurer; a small proportion was borne by the public payer. Across all stages of care, more than 60% of the total costs was attributed to productivity losses. HRQoL remained relatively stable throughout the waiting period (mean wait time from referral to TKA 13.2 mo) but improved postoperatively. CONCLUSION: The suboptimal primary care management of knee OA calls for the development of innovative models of care. This study may provide valuable guidance on the design and implementation of a new online educational platform to improve referral efficiency and expedite wait times for TKA.
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