Transition to Telehealth Physical Therapy After Hip Arthroscopy for Femoroacetabular Impingement

A pilot study conducted by Intermountain Healthcare finds that telehealth can potentially replace in-person visits for post-operative physical therapy.

Background: Telehealth use has increased significantly of late. However, outside of total hip and knee arthroplasty, there is minimal evidence regarding its efficacy in orthopaedics and postoperative rehabilitation.

Purpose: To determine the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a transition to postoperative telehealth physical therapy in patients undergoing hip arthroscopy for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI).

Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Included were 51 patients undergoing postoperative physical therapy after hip arthroscopy for FAI. The intervention group consisted of patients undergoing initial in-person visits followed by a transition to telehealth physical therapy for 3 months postoperatively (group 1; n ¼ 17). Comparison groups included patients undergoing in-person physical therapy with the same physical therapy team as the telehealth group (group 2; n ¼ 17) and patients undergoing in-person therapy with a different therapy team at the same facility (group 3; n ¼ 17). All groups were matched 1-to-1 by patient age and sex. All patients completed the short version of the International Hip Outcome Tool (iHOT-12) both preoperatively and at 3 months postoperatively. At 3 months postoperatively, it was determined whether patients met the minimally clinically important difference (MCID; 13 points) or substantial clinical benefit (SCB; 28 points) or whether they reached a Patient Acceptable Symptomatic State (PASS; 64 points). Billed charges were recorded as a measure of cost.

Results: The overall mean age of the study patients ranged from 33 to 34 years. Among the 3 groups, there was no significant difference in the preoperative, postoperative, or pre- to postoperative change in iHOT-12 scores or in the percentage of patients meeting MCID, SCB, or PASS at 3 months. Group 1 had significantly lower mean costs ($1015.67) compared with group 2 ($1555.62; P ¼ .011) or group 3 ($1896.38; P < .001).

Conclusion: In this pilot study, telehealth physical therapy after hip arthroscopy was found to lead to similar short-term outcomes and was cost-effective compared with in-person physical therapy.

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