Blues plans push to improve quality of hip, knee surgeries

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has reached an agreement with 12 hospitals across the state to improve the quality of hip and knee replacement surgeries.

Under the new initiative, the insurer and the hospitals will analyze data about the surgeries and develop best practices to improve quality and reduce costs, reported Crain's Detroit Business.

Ideally, the collaboration and sharing of best practices will decrease the need for subsequent surgeries to replace or repair the knee or hip implants. While the surgeries typically cost $20,000 to $30,000, re-replacement or revision surgeries can cost up to four times more and require longer hospital stays, Crain's noted.

"We're aiming to catch problems with implants and other aspects of surgery so we can avoid complications and revision surgeries. This would significantly reduce the trouble and the pain for patients and the cost to the health system in general," Brian Hallstrom, clinical leader of the arthroplasty initiative and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Michigan, said in a statement.

The partnership builds upon a collaborative model called Value Partnerships already in place between Blue Cross and hospitals that has saved $232 million statewide by reducing unnecessary procedures.

"This new initiative is one of 12 collaborations that the Michigan Blues support in partnership with hospitals across Michigan," said David Share, vice president of Blue Cross's Value Partnerships. "These collaborations are saving valuable healthcare dollars by increasing safety, reducing complications and improving the quality of medical and surgical procedures for over 200,000 patients in Michigan each year."

In a similar attempt to lower costs associated with knee and hip replacement surgeries, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee said last week that it has reached an arrangement with four orthopedic practices to use a bundled payment system for the operations, which it hopes will help incentivize doctors to focus on quality of care.

To learn more:
- read the Blue Cross statement
- check out the Crain's Detroit Business article