Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care - What is the Difference?

Surgical procedures and medical treatments can be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis. While the service being performed in either might be very similar, nonetheless, key differences can impact cost and aftercare.

 

Duration Of Care

Most inpatient procedures are performed in a hospital or another facility designed to provide overnight care. In some cases, the patient needs to remain in the hospital for one or more nightsunder the close supervision of a nurse, physician, or other medical staff. Because of the overnight care and the rising costs of medical services in the United States inpatient care tends to cost significantly more than outpatient care.
 
Outpatient treatments are typically performed in clinics and Ambulatory Surgery Centers ( ASC). Some of these facilities are co-owned or directly affiliated with the local hospital, though many are privately owned and operated by a single physician, group of physicians, or community investors.
 
Outpatient procedures are typically performed in a single day and rarely require the patient to stay overnight in a medical facility. If anesthesia is required, the patient may need to wait for it to wear off before returning to the comfort of their own home.
 
 

What are the Advantages of Outpatient Care?

 
Two major benefits to outpatient care have made it increasingly popular in recent years.
 
1) Recovering in the Comforts of Home

Hospitals are notoriously uncomfortable for many patients. Unfamiliar beds, institutional décor, noise, lights, and other distractions can contribute to patient discomfort and a  poor quality of sleep.
 
Individuals who receive outpatient care are allowed to recover in the comfort of their own homes. A familiar bed and comfortable sleep hygiene significantly improve recovery outcomes. An added benefit is getting to enjoy their own cooking, rather than eating hospital food.
 
2) Cost-Effective Care

As mentioned earlier, outpatient treatment is typically more cost-effective than inpatient care. A single night in a hospital can increase the cost of treatment by thousands of dollars. Even individuals with good health insurance coverage typically see significant savings by electing for outpatient treatment over inpatient care.
 
One study found that the average price for an inpatient knee replacement in a hospital costs just over $30,000, whereas an outpatient total knee replacement only costs around $19,000.
 
Another study on ankle replacement surgery found that inpatient costs averaged around $29,000 to $32,000,while the same procedure performed at an outpatient facility averaged a little less than $19,000.
 
Nationally, the average cost of a total hip replacement procedure costs just over $30,000 in an inpatient setting with a three-night stay in a hospital, yet an outpatient hip replacement at an accredited ASC only costs around $22,000.
 
This savings trend continues throughout nearly every segment of the healthcare industry, and a wide range of common treatments can now be performed on an outpatient basis.
 

Common Outpatient Treatments

As the popularity and demand for outpatient services have continued to grow, an increasing number of clinics offer treatments previously only available on an inpatient basis. Some of the more common outpatient procedures include:

  • Routine venipunctures
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy biopsy
  • Capillary blood draw
  • Colonoscopy and biopsy or lesion removal
  • Debridement of subcutaneous tissue
  • Draw blood off a venous device
  • Treatment of superficial wounds
  • Joint drain or fluid injection
  • Blood transfusions
  • Applying extremity splints
  • Cataract surgery
  • Draining of skin abscess
  • Injection into lumbar/sacral spine
  • Installing a temporary bladder catheter
  • Orthopedic treatments
  • Podiatry treatments
  • Treatment of the hands
  • Knee pain diagnostics and treatment
  • Knee replacement
  • Joint replacement

 

Outpatient Rehabilitation

Another notable advantage of outpatient care is the post-operative rehabilitation. With inpatient care, the individual remains in the hospital environment for multiple nights while receiving daily rehabilitation, significantly increasing costs, and lowering patient satisfaction levels. (I’m not sure why. This second part probably needs more information.)
 
Individuals who receive outpatient treatment recuperate at home,only returning for outpatient appointments with their dedicated physician or rehabilitation specialist, as needed. Not only do patients recover better at home, outpatient rehabilitation typically costs far less than inpatient rehabilitation, while also being easier to schedule. (Really?) The net outcome is more cost-effective with a faster recovery time.

 

Affiliation With Local Hospitals

The benefits of outpatient care and the long-term treatment outcomes have become so obvious that many local hospitals and medical centers have started outsourcing common procedures to qualified clinics like the Advanced Surgery Center.  Being able to maintain strong relationships and seamless communication reduces issues with fragmented care, while also improving patient satisfaction and treatment outcome rates.

 

What We Do

At Advanced Surgery Center, we focus on joint repair and replacement which includes orthopedics, podiatry, hands, and knee pain as well as overall pain management. Our physicians and staff specialists have years of experience providing our patients with superior outpatient surgical treatment and rehabilitation services.
 
We schedule treatments at a time and in a way that works best for you, all with fair and transparent costs. Our goal is to provide you with the highest level of care, and customer service to restore your overall quality of life.

Contact us here to ask questions or schedule a consult.