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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2018 Feb 21;100(4):326-333. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.17.00161.

The Cost of Joint Replacement: Comparing Two Approaches to Evaluating Costs of Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty.

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Department of Orthopaedics (J.A.P., V.D.P., J.M.D., and B.L.S.), and College of Health Professions (T.S.B.), Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.



In an era of mandatory bundled payments for total joint replacement, accurate analysis of the cost of procedures is essential for orthopaedic surgeons and their institutions to maintain viable practices. The purpose of this study was to compare traditional accounting and time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) methods for estimating the total costs of total hip and knee arthroplasty care cycles.


We calculated the overall costs of elective primary total hip and total knee replacement care cycles at our academic medical center using traditional and TDABC accounting methods. We compared the methods with respect to the overall costs of hip and knee replacement and the costs for each major cost category.


The traditional accounting method resulted in higher cost estimates. The total cost per hip replacement was $22,076 (2014 USD) using traditional accounting and was $12,957 using TDABC. The total cost per knee replacement was $29,488 using traditional accounting and was $16,981 using TDABC. With respect to cost categories, estimates using traditional accounting were greater for hip and knee replacement, respectively, by $3,432 and $5,486 for personnel, by $3,398 and $3,664 for space and equipment, and by $2,289 and $3,357 for indirect costs. Implants and consumables were derived from the actual hospital purchase price; accordingly, both methods produced equivalent results.


Substantial cost differences exist between accounting methods. The focus of TDABC only on resources used directly by the patient contrasts with the allocation of all operating costs, including all indirect costs and unused capacity, with traditional accounting. We expect that the true costs of hip and knee replacement care cycles are likely somewhere between estimates derived from traditional accounting methods and TDABC. TDABC offers patient-level granular cost information that better serves in the redesign of care pathways and may lead to more strategic resource-allocation decisions to optimize actual operating margins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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