Survey Finds Few Orthopedic Surgeons Know The Costs Of The Devices They Implant
Author: Kanu Okike, Robert V. O’Toole, Andrew N. Pollak, Julius A. Bishop, Christopher M. McAndrew, Samir Mehta, William W. Cross, Grant E. Garrigues, Mitchel B. Harris, Christopher T. Lebrun
Orthopedic procedures represent a large expense to the Medicare program, and costs of implantable medical devices account for a large proportion of those procedures’ costs. Physicians have been encouraged to consider cost in the selection of devices, but several factors make acquiring cost information difficult. To assess physicians’ levels of knowledge about costs, we asked orthopedic attending physicians and residents at seven academic medical centers to estimate the costs of thirteen commonly used orthopedic devices between December 2012 and March 2013. The actual cost of each device was determined at each institution; estimates within 20 percent of the actual cost were considered correct. Among the 503 physicians who completed our survey, attending physicians correctly estimated the cost of the device 21 percent of the time, and residents did so 17 percent of the time. Thirty-six percent of physicians and 75 percent of residents rated their knowledge of device costs “below average” or “poor.” However, more than 80 percent of all respondents indicated that cost should be “moderately,” “very,” or “extremely” important in the device selection process. Surgeons need increased access to information on the relative prices of devices and should be incentivized to participate in cost containment efforts.