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Knee-Replacement Needs

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, July 13, 2011
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Health systems are creating more joint-replacement centers, but along with the continuing growth of knee-replacement surgeries is a move toward innovations for more efficient patient care in a multidisciplinary approach against the backdrop of increased competition.

With these demands, hospitals are also initiating more coaching and education programs and redesigning clinical healthcare system protocols to reduce length of stay and improve patient outcomes, helping patients to walk sooner and at greater distances following surgery than years ago.

About 500,000 knee-replacement surgeries are performed annually in the U.S. Many hospitals report that knee replacement constitutes about 65% of their total joint-replacement surgeries, which are expected to increase at least 600% over the next two decades, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Aging baby boomers pursuing active lifestyles are considered the largest group of upcoming patients, as well as Generation Xers having knee replacements at an earlier age. In addition, increasing numbers of people afflicted with obesity, diabetes, and other ailments also are seeking knee replacements.

“There will be almost a tidal wave of knee replacements; it’s being proven in the numbers,” says Gavan Duffy, MD, medical director and head of the orthopedic service line for the 313-bed St. Luke’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL.

Hospitals are establishing protocols where physicians are performing as many as eight to 12 surgeries a week to increase ROI, and hospitals also have set aside separate operating rooms for joint replacement.

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