Medicare recipients given orthotic and prosthetic devices were more likely to remain active in the community and avoid facility-based care than similar Medicare patients who didn't receive such devices, a retrospective study found.
For example, patients receiving lower-extremity orthoses had fewer hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) admissions, and had about 10% lower Medicare costs after 18 months (P<0.05). Comparable Medicare savings were seen in patients with spinal orthoses and they also relied less on facility-based care (P<0.05).
The study results will be used to urge Medicare and other payers to make it easier for patients in need of prosthetics to receive them, the Amputee Coalition, a Manassas, Va.-based advocacy group that commissioned the study, said Tuesday.
The advocates said patients who receive orthoses and prosthetics will save Medicare money in the long run.
Although they relied less on facility-based care, patients receiving the orthotic and prosthetic devices did have more falls and fractures, and average Medicare episode payments weren't always lower. The increase in falls was most likely due to increased mobility because of the device, according to Allen Dobson, president of Dobson DaVanzo & Associates in Vienna, Va., the consulting firm that conducted the study.