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Geisinger expands implant guarantees

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In a new pilot study, Geisinger is offering a lifetime of free follow-up care to patients who receive implants such as hip replacements.

Geisinger Health System, which operates Geisinger Holy Spirit hospital in East Pennsboro Township, is partnering with Swiss medical device firm Medacta International in testing whether it can guarantee care for an implanted device for the lifetime of the device.

Should a patient require any follow-up care after the initial procedure, the patient will not see any charge for the ensuing treatment. Instead, Geisinger and Medacta will share in covering the costs of that care.

So far, the program is limited to a single patient who received a Medacta hip implant at a Geisinger provider near the end of February. But a Geisinger spokesperson said the nonprofit health system hopes to expand the service to more patients over the course of this year.

The program is itself an expansion of Geisinger’s existing ProvenCare program, wherein the company has guaranteed continuing care for a series of implanted medical devices since 2006, including hip and knee replacements. Patients in that program pay an initial fixed rate that covers pre-admission, followups and the procedure itself.

"If anyone suffers a complication from a number of those procedures, we eat that cost if they have to come back for any kind of revision," said Wendy Wilson, a spokesperson for Geisinger. The Montour County-based health care system serves 3 million patients across Pennsylvania and New Jersey and has 30,000 employees.

The ProvenCare program covered only problems arising from an implant within 90 days of the surgery. The pilot program started in February has no time limit.

ProvenCare is available only to subscribers to a Geisinger Health insurance plan who had their initial surgery at a Geisinger provider. Geisinger Health Plans currently have 583,000 subscribers.

The health network portrays the benefit as a value-based model, under which providers are reimbursed based on patient outcomes rather than individual procedures.

"Geisinger continues to drive the national dialogue on value-based orthopaedic surgery through this groundbreaking expansion of our ProvenCare model," said Dr. Michael Suk, chair of the Geisinger Musculoskeletal Institute and of the health system’s department of orthopaedic surgery.

The lifetime guarantee sounded like a first to Madris Tomes, founder and CEO of York County-based firm Device Events, which helps providers track and monitor Food and Drug Administration data to identify problematic devices.

According to Tomes, the guarantee from Geisinger could prove particularly useful as younger patients receive hip and joint implants for impact or sports injuries and are more likely to wear down a device with an active lifestyle

"They want to be able to get back out there and use them the same way, so they put a lot more stress on them now than what you used to see," said Tomes.

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