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Research Model Assesses Indirect Economic Implications Of Musculoskeletal Disorders And Treatment

AAOS study measures the societal and economic value of MSK care

ROSEMONT, Ill., March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) today introduced a methodological model to evaluate musculoskeletal (MSK)-related limitations and infer indirect economic outcomes and the societal value of specific orthopaedic surgery procedures. The AAOS study, "Modeling the Indirect Economic Implications of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Treatment ," published in BioMed Central's open access journal, Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation , is a comprehensive assessment to-date of the economic impact of MSK disorders.

Importantly, this model provides a foundation to assess the value of procedures and health services, both within and beyond the field of orthopaedics, where primary data are limited.

"From the perspectives of the patient, employers, and society, the 'value' of appropriate medical treatment extends beyond current and future medical expenditures and includes things like whether people can maintain their own independence, remain productively employed, avoid payments for disability or long-term care, and have an overall improvement of their quality of life," said John R. Tongue, MD, AAOS president. "With this new methodology, we are able to examine, for the first time, MSK care as it relates to specific conditions, and uncover the societal and economic benefits currently overlooked in the larger health care value discussion. In an increasingly cost- and quality-conscious health care environment, this analysis provides critical insight into what the true value of orthopaedic care means for patients."

MSK disorders and diseases are the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting the physical, financial and emotional well-being of millions of Americans each year. While many studies have quantified the burden of MSK disorders and the cost-effectiveness of treatment, few studies have looked at the impact of indirect cost measures, such as employability and loss of income, and the value these services provide to workers and their families, employers and society.

The published research suggests that:

  • Physical impairments associated with MSK disorders reduce household income and the likelihood of employment, and increase missed work days and disability pay for those who are employed.
  • Appropriate treatment of MSK disorders has the potential to significantly reduce indirect costs and is associated with net economic benefits to society.

To conduct the study, AAOS evaluated data from more than 185,000 people included in the National Health Information Survey (NHIS) and measured the relationship between physical limitations associated with MSK disorders and indirect indicators of cost, including employability, missed days of work, household income, and disability income. Using the NHIS findings and data from clinical studies, AAOS created an index that estimated the impact of specific orthopaedic surgery procedures on physical limitations and indirect costs.

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