In a study evaluating the financial impact of providing early physical therapy for intensive care patients, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that the up-front costs are outweighed by the financial savings generated by earlier discharges from the intensive care unit and shorter hospital stays overall. An article describing the findings, "ICU Early Physical Rehabilitation Programs: Financial Modeling of Cost Savings," is published online today ahead of print in the March issue of Critical Care Medicine.
"The evidence is growing that providing early physical and occupational therapy for intensive care patients even when they are on life support leads to better outcomes. Patients are stronger and more able to care for themselves when they are discharged," says Dale M. Needham, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine and critical care specialist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the study.
Needham says a major barrier to early rehab programs in the ICU has been concern among hospital administrators about the cost. "However, our study shows that a relatively low investment up front can produce a significant overall reduction in the cost of hospital care for these patients," Needham says. "Such programs are an example of how we can save money and improve care at the same time."
For the study, the researchers developed a financial model based on actual experience at The Johns Hopkins Hospital's medical intensive care unit (MICU), as well as on projections for hospitals of different sizes with variable lengths of stay.
The Johns Hopkins MICU admits about 900 patients each year. In 2008, the hospital created an early rehabilitation program with dedicated physical and occupational therapists, which added about $358,000 to the cost of care annually. However, by 2009, the length of stay in the MICU had decreased an average of 23 percent, down from six-and-a-half days to five
|Contact: Ellen Beth Levitt|
Johns Hopkins Medicine