Growing utilization of ambulatory spine surgery in Medicare patients from 2010-2021.

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North American Spine Society journal


BACKGROUND: There is growing interest in transitioning various surgical procedures to the outpatient care setting. However, for Medicare patients, the site of service for surgical procedures is influenced by regulations within the Inpatient and Outpatient Prospective Payment Systems. The purpose of this study is to quantify changes in utilization of outpatient spine surgery within the Medicare population, as well as to determine changes in outpatient volume after removal of a procedure from the "inpatient-only" list.

METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study of Medicare billing database information for selected spine procedures included in the Medicare Physician/Supplier Procedure Summary (PSPS) public use files from 2010-2021. These files include aggregated data from Medicare Part B fee-for-service claims, published yearly. Procedures from Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System (HCPCS) code ranges 22010-22899 and 62380-63103 were selected for analysis, limited to surgical services delivered in the inpatient, hospital outpatient department (HOPD), and ambulatory surgical center (ASC) settings. For each HCPCS code included, estimates of the total number of services and corresponding changes in volume were calculated.

RESULTS: Within the range of codes included in the study, the total number of outpatient spine procedures rose approximately 193% from 2010 to 2021, with compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for outpatient procedures per year of 9.9% for HOPDs and 15.7% for ASCs (-2.2% for inpatient procedures). Within this period, the ASC list grew from 12 procedures to 58 procedures. In 2021, the highest volume ASC procedure was HCPCS 63047, at approximately 4970 procedures.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates a trend of increasing utilization of HOPDs and ASCs for spine procedures among Medicare beneficiaries from 2010 to 2021. Though HOPDs are currently more widely utilized, the ongoing additions of spine procedures to the ASC covered procedures list may shift this balance.



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