Mental, physical prepping for surgery cuts patients' length of stay, study finds

A program to help surgery patients prepare physically and mentally for their procedure can help hospitals reduce their length of stay and lower costs, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

The "prehabilitation" program was first tested among patients at Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine before being implemented at 21 other hospitals in the state. The program includes a home-based walking plan that encourages patients to move more, along with supplementary education on nutrition, smoking cessation and psychological preparation for surgery.

Researchers studied data from 523 patients with traditional Medicare coverage who went through prehabilitation and more than 1,046 similar patients who did not.

They found that patients who went through the program had a median hospital length of stay of six days, compared to seven days for the control patients. Also, 65.6 percent of program patients were discharged to their homes, compared to 57 percent of the control group.

Total episode of care payments for program patients was lower ($31,641) than payments for those in the control group ($34,837).

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