Financial impact of improving patient care setting selection after bariatric surgery.
Smith ME, Bonham AJ, Varban OA, Finks JF, Carlin AM, and Ghaferi AA. Financial impact of improving patient care setting selection after bariatric surgery. Surg Obes Relat Dis 2019.
Surg Obes Relat Dis
BACKGROUND: Potentially avoidable emergency department (ED) visits are a significant source of excess healthcare spending. Despite improvement in postoperative readmissions, 20% of bariatric surgery patients use the ED postoperatively. Many of these visits may be appropriately managed in lower-acuity centers.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to evaluate the economic impact of shifting potentially avoidable ED visits after bariatric surgery to lower-acuity centers.
SETTING: Statewide quality improvement collaborative.
METHODS: We performed an observational study of patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 2011 and 2017 using a linked data registry, including clinical data from a large-quality improvement collaborative and payment data from a statewide value collaborative. Postoperative ED visits and readmission rates were determined. Ninety-day ED and urgent care center (UCC) visit claims were matched to a clinical registry. Price-standardized payments for UCC and ED visits without admission were compared.
RESULTS: Among the 36,071 patients who underwent bariatric surgery, 8.4% presented to the ED postoperatively. Approximately 50% of these visits resulted in readmission. Three hundred eighty-eight ED visits without readmission (i.e., potentially avoidable ED visits) and 110 UCC encounters with claims data were identified. Triaging a potentially avoidable ED visit to an UCC would generate a savings of $4238 per patient, reducing spending in this cohort by $1.6 million.
CONCLUSION: Shifting potentially avoidable ED visits after bariatric surgery could result in significant cost savings. Efforts to improve patients' selection of healthcare setting and increase utilization of lower-acuity centers may serve as a template for appropriately meeting the needs of patients and containing spending after bariatric surgery.
ePub ahead of print