Over the past year, several regions of the country have been forced to cancel elective surgeries as COVID cases have spike. While there was a global shut-down in cases between late March and early April of 2020, more recently the impact of COVID has been regional depending on the number of patients admitted to a given hospital for COVID-related reasons. As certain hospitals have had to respond to waves of COVID-related illness (such as those that occurred after Thanksgiving and Christmas), their resources have had to be diverted away from elective procedures, particularly those that require an overnight stay. Many patients who were scheduled to undergo procedures such as hip and knee replacement were indefinitely put on hold pending the continued anticipated COVID surges.
What COVID has reinforced from this experience is that for many people total hip and knee replacement is safe to perform as a same-day procedure with no overnight stay. With this in mind, these cases can be shifted to an outpatient surgery center that completely avoids exposure to the hospital. Recently, the Center of Medicare Services (CMS) has approved total hip replacement to transition to surgery centers while total knee replacement had already been approved in the recent past. This allows patients undergoing these procedures who are relatively healthy to return home just hours after surgery and recover in the comfort of home.
Outpatient joint replacement requires significant coordination of care, patients education and use of the best surgical and pain management techniques. Our practice has perfected this process over the past 5 years during which we have gained the experience of well over 1500 outpatient cases. We have developed a rapid recovery program called AVATAR (Alignment of Vital Assets to Accelerate Recovery) that leverages our extensive experience, leading to better outcomes, faster recovery and high patient satisfaction.
Outpatient joint replacement is growing in popularity as the safety of this transition continues to be documented. Critical to the patient is to select a surgeon who has abundant experience managing the care necessary to allow patients to safely go home the same day. This is where our AVATAR program shines and has allowed us to continue to provide high quality joint replacement care throughout this COVID pandemic.