There Is Wide Variation in Platelet-rich Plasma Injection Pricing: A United States Nationwide Study of Top Orthopaedic Hospitals

Justin Tiao, Kevin Wang, Michael Herrera, Renee Ren, Ashley M. Rosenberg, Richawna Cassie, Jashvant Poeran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

BackgroundDemand for platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections for osteoarthritis has dramatically increased in recent years despite conflicting evidence regarding its efficacy and highly variable pricing in the top orthopaedic centers in the United States, because PRP is typically not covered by insurance. A previous study investigating the mean price of PRP injections obtained information only from centers advertising online the availability of PRP injections. Thus, there is a need for further clarification of the overall availability and variability in cost of PRP injections in the orthopaedic community as well as an analysis of relevant regional demographic and hospital characteristics that could be associated with PRP pricing.Questions/purposesOur study purposes were to (1) report the availability and price variation of knee PRP injections at top-ranked United States orthopaedic centers, (2) characterize the availability of pricing information for a PRP injection over the telephone, (3) determine whether hospital characteristics (Orthopaedic Score [U.S. News & World Report measure of hospital orthopaedic department performance], size, teaching status, and rural-urban status) were associated with PRP injection availability and pricing, and (4) characterize the price variation, if it exists, of PRP injections in three metropolitan areas and individual institutions.MethodsIn this prospective study, a scripted telephone call to publicly listed clinic telephone numbers was used to determine the availability and price estimate (amount to be paid by the patient) of a PRP injection for knee osteoarthritis from the top 25 hospitals from each United States Census region selected from the U.S. News & World Report ranking of best hospitals for orthopaedics. Univariable analyses examined factors associated with PRP injection availability and willingness to disclose pricing, differences across regions, and the association between hospital characteristics (Orthopaedic Score, size, teaching status, and rural-urban status) and pricing. The Orthopaedic Score is a score assigned to each hospital by U.S. News & World Report as a measure of hospital performance based partly on patient outcomes, with higher scores indicating better outcomes.ResultsOverall, 87% (87 of 100) of respondents stated they offered PRP injections. Pricing ranged from USD 350 to USD 2815 (median USD 800) per injection, with the highest prices in the Northeast. The largest price range was in the Midwest, where more than two-thirds of PRP injections given at hospitals that disclosed pricing cost USD 500 to USD 1000. Of the hospitals that offered PRP injections, 68% (59 of 87) were willing to disclose price information over the telephone. PRP injection pricing was inversely correlated with hospital Orthopaedic Score (-3% price change [95% CI -5% to -1%]; p = 0.01) and not associated with any of the other hospital characteristics that were studied, such as patient population median income and total hospital expenses. An intracity analysis revealed wide variations in PRP pricing in all metropolitan areas that were analyzed, ranging from a minimum of USD 300 within 10 miles of metropolitan area B to a maximum of USD 1269 within 20 miles of metropolitan area C.ConclusionWe found that although PRP injections are widely available, pricing continues to be a substantial financial burden on patients, with large price variability among institutions. We also found that if patients are willing to shop around in a metropolitan area, there is potential to save a meaningful amount of money.Clinical RelevanceAs public interest in biologics in orthopaedic surgery increases, knowledge of its pricing should be clarified to consumers. The debated efficacy of PRP injections, combined with our findings that it is an expensive out-of-pocket procedure, suggests that PRP has limited cost-effectiveness, with variable, discrete pricing. As such, the price of PRP injections should be clearly disclosed to patients so they can make informed healthcare decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-684
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
Volume482
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024

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