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  • Additional Day-Per-Week of Physical, Occupational Rehab Therapy Results in Cost-Savings

    What a difference a day makes.

    Researchers in Australia say that a study of inpatient rehabilitation there has revealed that adding Saturday physical and occupational therapy sessions to a weedays-only schedule can lower overall health care costs after 1 year while it increases functional independence.

    For the study, researchers tracked public and private health care costs of 996 patients admitted to 2 inpatient rehabilitation facilities. The patients were divided into 2 groups: 1 group of 500 that received 1 hour each of physical therapy and occupational therapy Monday through Friday, and a second group of 496 patients who received the therapy sessions on Saturdays, too. Authors of the study were interested in finding whether the cost of the additional day of rehab therapies was offset by patient gains that resulted in lower health care expenditures after 1 year.

    The answer: a definitive yes. Results were e-published ahead of print in the April 18 issue of BMC Health Services Research (.pdf).

    Researchers found that after 1 year of admission, the Monday-Friday group racked up, on average, $68,184 (Australian) in combined health care costs, inclusive of Australian Medicare costs, private insurance costs, and out-of-pocket expenditures. The plus-Saturdays group reported an average cost of $61,859—in US dollars, a savings of nearly $5,000.

    Authors believe that part of the savings was realized through shorter lengths-of-stay among the Saturday group, which averaged 10.3 days compared with the control group's 15.2-day average. The shortened stays more than made up for the average additional cost of $200 per patient for resources used to provide the additional day of rehabilitation therapies.

    Also significant, according to the researchers, were the differences between the groups when it came to functional independence after 6 months and 1 year: compared with the control group, the Saturday group was 19% more likely to achieve a minimal clinical important difference (MCID) in functional independence after 6 months, and 11% more likely to achieve an MCID after 12 months.

    Authors believe that the cost-effectiveness could be attributable to the idea that "participants who received the additional Saturday rehabilitation were discharged at a higher level of functional independence and therefore were equipped to live independently in the community with less dependence on community health services."

    "The provision of an additional Saturday inpatient rehabilitation service provided benefits that reduced short term costs to the health service and reduced the medium term costs across the health system, including a reduction in hospital readmissions that could potentially free up inpatient beds," authors write. "The implication is a win-win intervention for the health service, the health system, and the patient."

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.


    • It's really interesting that the patients that went to occupational rehab therapy six days a week ended up saving money over those that went only five days a week. I'm really curious how the same research would turn out if it were focused on those living in either the U.S. or somewhere in Europe. I'm sure there is no shortage of people that would love to find out so that they can get the occupational rehab they need without spending more than they have to.

      Posted by McKayla Strauss on 6/24/2015 4:21 PM

    • It is really amazing how much a day does make a difference in the health care industry. Just look at the savings the people in this physical, occupation rehab therapy clinic had? The article say's that they saved about $5,000 dollars. That is amazing. It would be nice if the entire health care industry did something like this.

      Posted by Ted Smith on 6/25/2015 11:13 AM

    • Thanks for the tips! I'm surprised by how getting occupational therapy once a week makes a huge difference in cost savings for employers. It seems like occupational therapy could be a good way to help workers with their health issues to improve the way they work. If enrolling patients who are in need of occupational therapy can help save companies up to $5,000, then it seems like it would be worth it.

      Posted by Deanna R. Jones on 7/28/2015 4:09 PM

    • I can't believe that adding the extra day can do so much. This is really great for anyone who is low on funds. I will need to remember this in case anything happens. Thank you for the information.

      Posted by James Bay on 9/28/2015 10:13 AM

    • Just one day a week can make such a difference! Having personally suffered injuries where physical therapy was needed, it made such a difference to go multiple times a week. My recovery time was much quicker because of it. I think that this study proves some great things and that we should make physical therapy and occupational therapy priorities a regular part of healthcare treatment.

      Posted by Jason Scott on 9/29/2015 1:34 PM

    • I think that is really interesting how they did the research. I think it would be great to see other research on this and other rehabilitations centers. I think that it would be nice to have some more research on the topic.

      Posted by Zacht Thalman on 10/15/2015 3:47 PM

    • Interesting study! I wouldn't have thought that adding an additional day of rehabilitation therapy would reduce medical expenses. It seems ironic, but I suppose it makes sense. A friend of mine is doing some therapy for her knee. I'll have to show her this article. Thanks for sharing!

      Posted by Joel on 10/26/2015 11:54 AM

    • My wife has been having some back issues lately, and she isn't sure what to do about it. This being said, I really appreciate you letting me know that if she were to try occupational therapy one time a week, that it would help her out a ton. Plus, she would end up saving some money with everything as well. I'll be sure to show this to her right away so we can set up an appointment. Thanks a ton for the help.

      Posted by Bennett Fischer on 12/18/2015 5:34 PM

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