When doctors suggest that their hip and knee replacement candidate patients view decision tools before they undergo surgery, 38% fewer people went ahead with the knee procedure and 26% fewer agreed to undergo hip replacement.
Over a six-month period, total costs were 12% to 21% lower as well.
Those are the findings from an article in the September issue of the journal Health Affairs from researchers for Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. The team looked to see what happened when 27 staff surgeons and 15 physician assistants regularly suggested that surgical candidates use the tools, either on an online website or a mailed DVD before making the decision about having the surgery.
Use of decision tools give patients independent information about the risks and benefits of their procedures, including complication rates and recovery periods, and help them set realistic expectations for their improved healthcare quality.
Because the tools may prompt many patients to decline procedures, they may affect care models that do not employ doctors more than those that use a salaried structure.