Describe a recent innovation, and discuss its social and economic impacts
Joint Replacement Surgery
Nowadays, with increasing incomes there is also a greater expectation for good quality health services. As the result, new medical innovations are demanded. According to Lichtenberg (2013), a medical innovation is defined as “the introduction and use of new drugs, devices and procedures” (p.50). Osteoarthritis of the joints is a degenerative condition which is caused by injury, ageing, or unsuccessful of joint repair and sustainment mechanism (Access Economics 2001). Osteoarthritis was evaluated of affect nearly 157 million of Australians and over $1.4 billion per annum directly on the health system in 2004 (Access Economics 2005). Hence, a new procedure to treat osteoarthritis is necessary to be applied. This essay will describe joint replacement surgery which is as a treatment for osteoarthritis, and discuss the economic and social impacts of this medical innovation with particular reference to Australia.
Joint replacement surgery is a procedure whereby the damaged joint is replaced by a new one. It is considered to be the most successful treatment for osteoarthritis compared to other nonsurgical treatment such as weight reduction, drug therapy and physiotherapy (Hart, 2004). The hip and knee are the most frequently replaced joints. Knee replacement surgery is a technique which damaged joint surfaces of both the thighbone and the shinbone are complete replaced. A hip prosthesis consists of replacing both the acetabulum by plastic cup and the femoral head by metal stem and ball. Furthermore, the recent number of joint replacement surgeries is significantly increasing recently in Australia. In 2002-03, 55,836 joint replacement procedures were performed; including 27,833 hip replacements and 28,003 knee replacements (AOA NJRR 2004). That number was roughly 75 percent higher than 1994-95 levels. Also, joint replacement is more commonly executed in private sector, on female patients and the oldest age groups than other population groups. There were around 34.000 surgeries executed in the private hospitals beside nearly 21.800 surgeries carried out in the public hospitals (AOA NJRR 2004).
The growth in the number of procedures performed has affected on acute care (hospital) spending by government and private health insurers. In 2001-02, hip and knee replacements were counted $815.5 million on total acute care spending on by government and private health insurers (AOA NJRR 2004). A direct result of this is an increase in the new technology unit prostheses costs. For instance, in 2001, between $8000 and $10,000 was the price of newer cement-less and hybrid prostheses compared to between $2000 and $3,500 of a traditional cemented prostheses. Also the unit prices for joint prostheses are evidence of differences in hip and knee, and between private and public area. For example, $2,630 was paid for a unit prostheses by private sector compared to $1,450 was paid by the public sector (BUPA, sub. 28 cited in Productivity Commission, 2005). A possible reason for this is that mostly customers of private insurance are younger and therefore higher quality and longer designed prostheses are claimed. However, spending on hip and knee replacements may impact on an expenditure reduction in other sector of health organisation. For instance, the total knee replacements saved an average of US $50,000 per patient in hospital expenditure and US $40,000 in nursing home costs (MIAA, sub.17 cited in Productivity Commission, 2005). In addition, cost savings in the health system is significant impacted by advances in technology using in joint replacement surgery. For example, the length of stay in hospital was 4 days but it is reduced to 1.5 days by new prosthetic devices. Patient’s demands for physiotherapy home care and sore medication after surgery are reduced by computer assisted surgery (MIAA, sub. 17 cited in Productivity Commission,