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Robert D. Winkelman, Michael D. Kavanagh, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Dominic W. Pelle, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

On August 31, 2017, the state of Ohio implemented legislation limiting the dosage and duration of opioid prescriptions. Despite the widespread adoption of such restrictions, few studies have investigated the effects of these reforms on opioid prescribing and patient outcomes. In the present study, the authors aimed to evaluate the effect of recent state-level reform on opioid prescribing, patient-reported outcomes (PROs), and postoperative emergency department (ED) visits and hospital readmissions after elective lumbar decompression surgery.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent elective lumbar laminectomy for degenerative disease at one of 5 hospitals within a single health system in the years prior to and after the implementation of the statewide reform (September 1, 2016–August 31, 2018). Patients were classified according to the timing of their surgery relative to implementation of the prescribing reform: before reform (September 1, 2016–August 31, 2017) or after reform (September 1, 2017– August 31, 2018). The outcomes of interest included total outpatient opioids prescribed in the 90 days following discharge from surgery as measured in morphine-equivalent doses (MEDs), total number of opioid refill prescriptions written, patient-reported pain at the first postoperative outpatient visit as measured by the Numeric Pain Rating Scale, improvement in patient-reported health-related quality of life as measured by the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System–Global Health (PROMIS-GH) questionnaire, and ED visits or hospital readmissions within 90 days of surgery.

RESULTS

A total of 1031 patients met the inclusion criteria for the study, with 469 and 562 in the before- and after-reform groups, respectively. After-reform patients received 26% (95% CI 19%–32%) fewer MEDs in the 90 days following discharge compared with the before-reform patients. No significant differences were observed in the overall number of opioid prescriptions written, PROs, or postoperative ED or hospital readmissions within 90 days in the year after the implementation of the prescribing reform.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients undergoing surgery in the year after the implementation of a state-level opioid prescribing reform received significantly fewer MEDs while reporting no change in the total number of opioid prescriptions, PROs, or postoperative ED visits or hospital readmissions. These results demonstrate that state-level reforms placing reasonable limits on opioid prescriptions written for acute pain may decrease patient opioid exposure without negatively impacting patient outcomes after lumbar decompression surgery.

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Sebastian Salas-Vega, Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Robert D. Winkelman, Matthew M. Grabowski, Ghaith Habboub, Jason W. Savage, Michael P. Steinmetz, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

In a healthcare landscape in which costs increasingly matter, the authors sought to distinguish among the clinical and nonclinical drivers of patient length of stay (LOS) in the hospital following elective lumbar laminectomy—a common spinal surgery that may be reimbursed using bundled payments—and to understand their relationships with patient outcomes and costs.

METHODS

Patients ≥ 18 years of age undergoing laminectomy surgery for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis within the Cleveland Clinic health system between March 1, 2016, and February 1, 2019, were included in this analysis. Generalized linear modeling was used to assess the relationships between the day of surgery, patient discharge disposition, and hospital LOS, while adjusting for underlying patient health risks and other nonclinical factors, including the hospital surgery site and health insurance.

RESULTS

A total of 1359 eligible patients were included in the authors’ analysis. The mean LOS ranged between 2.01 and 2.47 days for Monday and Friday cases, respectively. The LOS was also notably longer for patients who were ultimately discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or rehabilitation center. A prolonged LOS occurring later in the week was not associated with greater underlying health risks, yet it nevertheless resulted in greater costs of care: the average total surgical costs for lumbar laminectomy were 20% greater for Friday cases than for Monday cases, and 24% greater for late-week cases than for early-week cases ultimately transferred to SNFs or rehabilitation centers. A Poisson generalized linear model fit the data best and showed that the comorbidity burden, surgery at a tertiary care center versus a community hospital, and the incidence of any postoperative complication were associated with significantly longer hospital stays. Discharge to home healthcare, SNFs, or rehabilitation centers, and late-week surgery were significant nonclinical predictors of LOS prolongation, even after adjusting for underlying patient health risks and insurance, with LOSs that were, for instance, 1.55 and 1.61 times longer for patients undergoing their procedure on Thursday and Friday compared to Monday, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Late-week surgeries are associated with a prolonged LOS, particularly when discharge is to an SNF or rehabilitation center. These findings point to opportunities to lower costs and improve outcomes associated with elective surgical care. Interventions to optimize surgical scheduling and perioperative care coordination could help reduce prolonged LOSs, lower costs, and, ultimately, give service line management personnel greater flexibility over how to use existing resources as they remain ahead of healthcare reforms.

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Nicholas M. Rabah, Hammad A. Khan, Robert D. Winkelman, Jay M. Levin, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Clinician & Group Survey (CG-CAHPS) was developed as a result of the value-based purchasing initiative by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It allows patients to rate their experience with their provider in the outpatient setting. These ratings are then reported in aggregate and made publicly available, allowing patients to make informed choices during physician selection. In this study, the authors sought to elucidate the primary drivers of patient satisfaction in the office-based spine surgery setting as represented by the CG-CAHPS.

METHODS

All patients who underwent lumbar spine surgery between 2009 and 2017 and completed a patient experience survey were studied. The satisfied group comprised patients who selected a top-box score (9 or 10) for overall provider rating (OPR) on the CG-CAHPS, while the unsatisfied group comprised the remaining patients. Demographic and surgical characteristics were compared using the chi-square test for categorical variables and the Student t-test for continuous variables. A multivariable logistic regression model was developed to analyze the association of patient and surgeon characteristics with OPR. Survey items were then added to the baseline model individually, adjusting for covariates.

RESULTS

The study population included 647 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery. Of these patients, 564 (87%) selected an OPR of 9 or 10 on the CG-CAHPS and were included in the satisfied group. Patient characteristics were similar between the two groups. The two groups did not differ significantly regarding patient-reported health status measures. After adjusting for potential confounders, the following survey items were associated with the greatest odds of selecting a top-box OPR: did this provider show respect for what you had to say? (OR 21.26, 95% CI 9.98–48.10); and did this provider seem to know the important information about your medical history? (OR 20.93, 95% CI 11.96–45.50).

CONCLUSIONS

The present study sought to identify the key drivers of patient satisfaction in the postoperative office-based spine surgery setting and found several important associations. After adjusting for potential confounders, several items relating to physician communication were found to be the strongest predictors of patient satisfaction. This highlights the importance of effective communication in the patient-provider interaction and elucidates avenues for quality improvement efforts in the spine care setting.

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Nicholas M. Rabah, Hammad A. Khan, Jay M. Levin, Robert D. Winkelman, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) survey was developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a result of their value-based purchasing initiative. It allows patients to rate their experience with their provider in the outpatient setting. This presents a unique situation in healthcare in which the patient experience drives the marketplace, and since its creation, providers have sought to improve patient satisfaction. Within the spine surgery setting, however, the question remains whether improved patient satisfaction correlates with improved outcomes.

METHODS

All patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery between 2009 and 2017 and who completed a CG-CAHPS survey after their procedure were studied. Demographic and surgical characteristics were then obtained. The primary outcomes of this study include patient-reported health outcomes measures such as the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Global Health (PROMIS-GH) surveys for both mental health (PROMIS-GH-MH) and physical health (PROMIS-GH-PH), and the visual analog scale for back pain (VAS-BP). A multivariable linear regression analysis was used to assess whether patient satisfaction with their provider was associated with changes in each health status measure after adjusting for potential confounders.

RESULTS

The study population included 647 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery. Of these, 564 (87%) indicated that they were satisfied with the care they received. Demographic and surgical characteristics were largely similar between the two groups. Multivariable linear regression demonstrated that patient satisfaction with their provider was not a significant predictor of change in two of the three patient-reported outcomes (PROMIS-GH-MH and PROMIS-GH-PH) assessed at 1 year. However, top-box patient satisfaction with their provider was a significant predictor of improvement in VAS-BP scores at 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that after adjusting for patient-level covariates such as age, diagnosis of disc displacement, self-reported mental health, self-reported overall health, and preoperative patient-reported outcome measure status, a significant association was observed between top-box overall provider rating and 1-year improvement in VAS-BP, but no such association was observed for PROMIS-GH-PH and PROMIS-GH-MH. This suggests that pain-related outcome measures may serve as better predictors of patients’ satisfaction with their spine surgeons. Furthermore, this suggests that the current method by which patient satisfaction is being assessed and publicly reported may not necessarily correlate with validated measures that are used within the spine surgery setting to assess surgical efficacy.

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Haariss Ilyas, Joshua L. Golubovsky, Jingxiao Chen, Robert D. Winkelman, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to evaluate the incidence and risk factors for 90-day readmission and reoperation after elective surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective consecutive cohort analysis of patients undergoing posterior lumbar decompression with or without fusion for LSS with claudication from January 2014 through December 2015.

RESULTS

Data were collected on 1592 consecutive patients. The mean age at surgery was 67.4 ± 10.1 years and 45% of patients were female. The 90-day reoperation rate was 4.7%, and 69.3% of the reoperations occurred within the first 30 days. The 90-day readmission rate was 7.2%. Multivariable analysis showed that postoperative development of a surgical site infection (SSI; odds ratio [OR] 14.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] 7.86–25.18), acute kidney injury (AKI; OR 6.76, 95% CI 2.39–19.57), and urinary tract infection (UTI; OR 3.96, 95% CI 2.43–6.37), as well as a history of congestive heart failure (CHF; OR 3.03, 95% CI 1.69–5.28), were significant risk factors for readmission within 90 days. Male sex (OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.38–0.92) was associated with decreased odds for readmission. With regards to reoperation, development of SSI (OR 25.06, 95% CI 13.54–46.51), sepsis (OR 7.63, 95% CI 1.52–40.59), UTI (OR 2.54, 95% CI 1.31–4.76), and increased length of stay (LOS; OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.17–1.33) were found to be significant risk factors. A subsequent analysis found that morbid obesity (OR 6.99), history of coronary artery disease (OR 2.263), increased duration of surgery (OR 1.004), and LOS (OR 1.07) were significant risk factors for developing an SSI.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, this study found rates of 4.7% and 7.2% for reoperation and readmission, respectively, within 90 days: 30.7% of the reoperations and 44.7% of the readmissions occurred beyond the first 30 days. A diagnosis of SSI, AKI, UTI, and history of CHF were significant factors for readmission, while male sex was associated with decreased odds for readmission. A diagnosis of SSI, sepsis, UTI, and increased LOS were found to be significant predictors for reoperation. Understanding 90-day complication rates is imperative because there has been increased discussion and healthcare policy extending the global postoperative window to 90 days. Current literature supports a readmission rate of 3%–9% after spine surgery. However, this literature either is limited to a 30-day window or does not stratify between different types of spine surgeries.

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Jay M. Levin, Robert D. Winkelman, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Patient Experience of Care, composed of 9 dimensions derived from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, is being used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to adjust hospital reimbursement. Currently, there are minimal data on how scores on the constituent HCAHPS items impact the global dimension of satisfaction, the Overall Hospital Rating (OHR). The purpose of this study was to determine the key drivers of overall patient satisfaction in the setting of inpatient lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

Demographic and preoperative patient characteristics were obtained. Patients selecting a top-box score for OHR (a 9 or 10 of 10) were considered to be satisfied with their hospital experience. A baseline multivariable logistic regression model was then developed to analyze the association between patient characteristics and top-box OHR. Then, multivariable logistic regression models adjusting for patient-level covariates were used to determine the association between individual components of the HCAHPS survey and a top-box OHR.

RESULTS

A total of 453 patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery were included, 80.1% of whom selected a top-box OHR. Diminishing overall health status (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.43–0.91) was negatively associated with top-box OHR. After adjusting for potential confounders, the survey items that were associated with the greatest increased odds of selecting a top-box OHR were: staff always did everything they could to help with pain (OR 12.5, 95% CI 6.6–23.7), and nurses were always respectful (OR 11.0, 95% CI 5.3–22.6).

CONCLUSIONS

Patient experience of care is increasingly being used to determine hospital and physician reimbursement. The present study analyzed the key drivers of patient experience among patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery and found several important associations. Patient overall health status was associated with top-box OHR. After adjusting for potential confounders, staff always doing everything they could to help with pain and nurses always being respectful were the strongest predictors of overall satisfaction in this population. These findings highlight opportunities for quality improvement efforts in the spine care setting.