January 2018

Online Tool Guides Joint Replacement Decisions in OA Sufferers

By Laura Hochnadel

A web-based tool developed at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School helps patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee or hip decide whether and when to proceed with total joint replacement surgery by comparing the individual’s pain and function against nationwide population data. The decision-support tool, called A.S.K (Arthritis care through Shared Knowledge) is now deployed in a two-phase randomized, controlled clinical trial with 40 orthopedic surgeons and 8,000 patients nationwide.

The patient assessment system presents individualized OA care plan alternatives derived by analyzing patient-reported pain and symptoms; provides estimates of likely total joint replacement outcomes based on patient risk factors such as other medical conditions; and presents evidence-based information for non-operative as well as operative care. The information is personalized in the context of a patient’s goals for pain relief and improved function, and is available in real time for discussion during an orthopedic office visit.

The study will compare the OA care decision process and quality, and quality of care as measured by pain relief and functional gain, between patients who use the A.S.K. system and controls who receive care as usual at six and 12 months after the decision.

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- Emily Delzell

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