The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 31, 2014

Health providers holding down costs while better coordinating care

Health providers holding down costs while better coordinating care

(Continued)

Meyers said a big push for them in the coming year is to expand alternative ways to allow people to recover from joint replacement surgeries.

“We’re doing total joint replacements in our surgery center and then recoup them at a hotel or an Ecumen or Thro community,” Meyers said.

He said patients are put up in hotels, such as the Hilton Garden Inn, and a nurse is stationed in another room, providing 24/7 care to one, two or three patients recovering from surgery.

“It saves the patient a lot of money compared to staying in the hospital. They like it because they have nice rooms, can order the food they want, and they save a bundle.”

Meyers said the only thing holding back on an expansion of the hotel recuperation concept is that some insurance companies – for reasons he said he can’t fully understand – are still balking at allowing it even though it saves the insurance company a lot of money.

He said candidates for such recuperation must meet certain health criteria. Someone of advanced age suffering from diabetes, for example, would still recover in a hospital.

Like everything in health care, OFC has seen staggering technological advances, said Meyers, who remembers when a knee orthoscopy meant pushing a tube into someone’s knee and literally looking into the knee with the naked eye. Today, tiny video probes do the job.

“All rotator cuffs (surgery) used to be a big incision down the front of your shoulder. Now we do them through three little button holes.

“The technology is just off the charts.”

Meyers said cases of bad medical parts being implanted in people’s joints aren’t a medical liability for OFC, but it puts them in a bad position. The OFC did use the Stryker hip replacement parts in several patients – parts later found to be defective. Stryker has already agreed to some settlements stemming from lawsuits and will likely pay billions of dollars.

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