All Publications

  • Maximization Personality, Disability and Symptoms of Psychosocial Disease in Hand Surgery Patients. Journal of surgical orthopaedic advances Gire, J., Alokozai, A., Sheikholeslami, N., Lindsay, S., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2020; 29 (2): 106–11


    There are different frameworks to describe how people make decisions. One framework, maximization, is an approach where individuals approach choices with a goal of finding the 'best' possible alternative. We sought to determine the relationship between maximization and patient reported disability in patients with hand problems. We performed a cross-sectional study of 119 patients who presented to a hand surgery clinic. Patients completed a questionnaire that included sociodemographics, QuickDASH, Decisional Conflict Scale, Pain Catastrophizing Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire, Health Anxiety Inventory and General Self-Efficacy. Maximization did not correlate with subjective disability in patients with hand problems. Depression, pain catastrophizing and a diagnosis of upper extremity fracture had the greatest independent association with disability.In patients presenting for an initial hand surgery consultation, maximization was not associated with variation in patient reported disability or symptoms of psychosocial disease. Alternative factors influencing patient decision-making and outcomes should be explored. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 29(2):106-111, 2020).

    View details for PubMedID 32584225

  • Patient Willingness to Pay for Faster Return to Work or Smaller Incisions. Hand (New York, N.Y.) Alokozai, A., Lindsay, S. E., Eppler, S. L., Fox, P. M., Ladd, A. L., Kamal, R. N. 2019: 1558944719890039


    Background: Value-based health care models such as bundled payments and accountable care organizations can penalize health systems and physicians for excess costs leading to low-value care. Health systems can minimize these extra costs by constraining diagnostic (eg, magnetic resonance imaging utilization) or treatment options with debatable necessity in the setting of clinical equipoise. Instead of restricting more expensive treatments, it is plausible that health systems could instead recoup the extra costs of these treatments by charging patients supplementary out-of-pocket charges (cost sharing). The primary aim of this exploratory study was to assess hand surgery patient willingness to pay supplementary out-of-pocket charges for a procedure that theoretically leads to an earlier return to work or smaller incisions when there are 2 procedures that lead to similar results (clinical equipoise). Methods: A total of 122 patients completed a questionnaire that included demographic information, a financial distress assessment, a series of scenarios asking patients the degree to which they are willing to pay extra for the procedure choice, as well as their perspective of how much insurers should be responsible for these additional costs. Results: Patients were willing to pay out-of-pocket to some degree for a procedure that leads to earlier return to work and smaller incision size when compared with a similar alternative procedure, but noted that insurers should bear a greater burden of costs. Approximately 10% of patients were willing to pay maximum amounts ($2500+) for earlier return to work (3, 7, and 14 days earlier) and smaller incision sizes of any length. Conclusions: Some patients may be willing to pay out-of-pocket and cost share for procedures that lead to earlier return to work and smaller incisions in the setting of clinical equipoise. As such, when developing and implementing alternative payment models, health systems could potentially offer services with debatable necessity in the setting of equipoise for a supplementary out-of-pocket charge.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1558944719890039

    View details for PubMedID 31791156

  • Clinical Care Redesign to Improve Value for Trigger Finger Release: A Before-and-After Quality Improvement Study. Hand (New York, N.Y.) Burn, M. B., Shapiro, L. M., Eppler, S. L., Behal, R., Kamal, R. N. 2019: 1558944719884661


    Background: Trigger finger release (TFR) is a commonly performed procedure. However, there is great variation in the setting, care pathway, anesthetic, and cost. We compared the institutional cost for isolated TFR before and after redesigning our clinical care pathway. Methods: Total direct cost to the health system (excluding the surgeon and anesthesiology costs) and time spent by the patient at the surgery center were collected for 1 hand surgeon's procedures at an ambulatory surgery center over a 3-year period. We implemented a redesigned pathway that altered phases of care and anesthetic use by transitioning from intravenous (IV) sedation to wide awake local anesthesia with no tourniquet. Cost data were reported as percentage change in the median and compared both pre- to post-implementation and with 2 control surgeons using the traditional pathway within the same center. Power analysis was based on prior work on a carpal tunnel pathway. Significance was defined by a P-value < .05. Results: Ten TFRs (90% local with IV sedation) and 44 TFRs (89% local alone) were performed pre- and post-implementation, respectively. From pre- to post-implementation, the study surgeon's total direct cost decreased by 18%, while the control surgeons decreased by 2%. Median time spent at the surgery center decreased by 41 minutes post-implementation with significantly shorter setup time in the operating room (OR), total time in the OR, and time spent in recovery prior to discharge. Conclusions: Redesigning the care pathway for TFR led to a decrease in institutional cost and patient time spent at the surgery center.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1558944719884661

    View details for PubMedID 31690136

  • The Usability and Feasibility of Conjoint Analysis to Elicit Preferences for DistalRadius Fractures in Patients 55Years andOlder. The Journal of hand surgery Shapiro, L. M., Eppler, S. L., Baker, L. C., Harris, A. S., Gardner, M. J., Kamal, R. N. 2019


    PURPOSE: Eliciting patient preferences is one part of the shared decision-making process-a process of decision making focused on the values and preferences of the patient. We evaluated the usability and feasibility of a point-of-care conjoint analysis tool for preference elicitation for shared decision making in the treatment of distal radius fractures in patients over the age of 55 years.METHODS: Twenty-seven patients 55 years of age or older with a displaced distal radius fracture were recruited from a hand and upper extremity clinic. A conjoint analysis tool was created describing the attributes of care (eg, return of grip strength) of surgical and nonsurgical treatment. This tool was administered to patients to determine their preferences for the treatment attributes when choosing between surgical and nonsurgical treatment. Patients completed a System Usability Scale (SUS) to evaluate usability, and time to complete the tool was measured to evaluate feasibility.RESULTS: Patients considered the conjoint analysis tool to be usable (SUS, 91.4; SD, 10.9). Mean time to complete the tool was 5.1 minutes (SD, 1.4 minutes). The most important attributes driving the decision for surgical treatment were return of grip strength at 1 year and time spent in a cast or brace. The most important attributes driving the decision for nonsurgical treatment were use of anesthesia during treatment and return of grip strength at 1 year.CONCLUSIONS: A point-of-care conjoint analysis tool for distal radius fractures in patients 55 years and older can be used to elicit patient preferences to inform the shared decision-making process. Further investigation evaluating the effect of preference elicitation on treatment choice, involvement in decision making, and patient-reported outcomes are needed.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: A conjoint analysis tool is a simple, structured process physicians can use during shared decision making to highlight trade-offs between treatment options and elicit patient preferences to inform treatment choices.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jhsa.2019.07.010

    View details for PubMedID 31495523

  • Financial Distress Is Associated With Delay in Seeking Care for Hand Conditions. Hand (New York, N.Y.) Zhuang, T., Eppler, S. L., Shapiro, L. M., Roe, A. K., Yao, J., Kamal, R. N. 2019: 1558944719866889


    Background: As medical costs continue to rise, financial distress due to these costs has led to poorer health outcomes and patient cost-coping behavior. Here, we test the null hypothesis that financial distress is not associated with delay of seeking care for hand conditions. Methods: Eighty-seven new patients presenting to the hand clinic for nontraumatic conditions completed our study. Patients completed validated instruments for measuring financial distress, pain catastrophizing, and pain. Questions regarding delay of care were included. The primary outcome was self-reported delay of the current hand clinic visit. Results: Patients who experience high financial distress differed significantly from those who experience low financial distress with respect to age, race, annual household income, and employment status. Those experiencing high financial distress were more likely to report having delayed their visit to the hand clinic (57% vs 30%), higher pain catastrophizing scores (17.7 vs 7.6), and higher average pain in the preceding week (4.5 vs 2.3). After adjusting for age, sex, and pain, high financial distress (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 4.90) and pain catastrophizing score (adjusted OR = 0.96) were found to be independent predictors of delay. Financial distress was highly associated with annual household income in a multivariable linear regression model. Conclusions: Patients with nontraumatic hand conditions who experience higher financial distress are more likely to delay their visit to the hand clinic. Within health care systems, identification of patients with high financial distress and targeted interventions (eg, social or financial services) may help prevent unnecessary delays in care.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1558944719866889

    View details for PubMedID 31409138

  • The Role of Patient Research in Patient Trust in Their Physician JOURNAL OF HAND SURGERY-AMERICAN VOLUME Lu, L. Y., Sheikholeslami, N., Alokozai, A., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2019; 44 (7): 617-+
  • The Association of Financial Distress With Disability in Orthopaedic Surgery. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Mertz, K., Eppler, S. L., Thomas, K., Alokozai, A., Yao, J., Amanatullah, D. F., Chou, L., Wood, K. B., Safran, M., Steffner, R., Gardner, M., Kamal, R. N. 2019; 27 (11): e522–e528


    INTRODUCTION: Increased out-of-pocket costs have led to patients bearing more of the financial burden for their care. Previous work has shown that financial burden and distress can affect outcomes, symptoms, satisfaction, and adherence to treatment. We asked the following questions: (1) Does patients' financial distress correlate with disability in patients with nonacute orthopaedic conditions? (2) Do patient demographic factors affect this correlation?METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional, observational study of new patients presenting to a multispecialty orthopaedic clinic with a nonacute orthopaedic complication. Patients completed a demographics questionnaire, the InCharge Financial Distress/Financial Well-Being Scale, and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index. Statistical analysis was done using Pearson's correlation.RESULTS: The mean score for financial distress was 4.10 (SD, 2.09; scale 1 [low distress] to 10 [high distress]; range, 1.13 to 10.0), and the mean disability score was 0.54 (SD, 0.65; scale 0 to 3; range, 0 to 2.75). A moderate positive correlation exists between financial distress and disability (r = 0.43; P < 0.01). Financial distress and disability were highest for poor, uneducated, Medicare patients.CONCLUSIONS: A moderate correlation exists between financial distress and disability in patients with nonacute orthopaedic conditions, particularly in patients with low socioeconomic status. Orthopaedic surgeons may benefit from identifying patients in financial distress and discussing the cost of treatment because of its association with disability and potentially inferior outcomes. Further investigation is needed to test whether decreasing financial distress decreases disability.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III prospective cohort.

    View details for DOI 10.5435/JAAOS-D-18-00252

    View details for PubMedID 31125323

  • The Feasibility and Usability of a Ranking Tool to Elicit Patient Preferences for the Treatment of Trigger Finger JOURNAL OF HAND SURGERY-AMERICAN VOLUME Shapiro, L. M., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2019; 44 (6): 480-+
  • Defining Quality in Hand Surgery From the Patient's Perspective: A Qualitative Analysis JOURNAL OF HAND SURGERY-AMERICAN VOLUME Eppler, S. L., Kakar, S., Sheikholeslami, N., Sun, B., Pennell, H., Kamal, R. N. 2019; 44 (4): 311-+
  • Variations in Utilization of Carpal Tunnel Release Among Medicaid Beneficiaries JOURNAL OF HAND SURGERY-AMERICAN VOLUME Zhuang, T., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2019; 44 (3): 192–200
  • Patient Preferences for Shared Decision Making: Not All Decisions Should Be Shared. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons E Lindsay, S., Alokozai, A., Eppler, S. L., Fox, P., Curtin, C., Gardner, M., Avedian, R., Palanca, A., Abrams, G. D., Cheng, I., Kamal, R. N. 2019


    To assess bounds of shared decision making in orthopaedic surgery, we conducted an exploratory study to examine the extent to which patients want to be involved in decision making in the management of a musculoskeletal condition.One hundred fifteen patients at an orthopaedic surgery clinic were asked to rate preferred level of involvement in 25 common theoretical clinical decisions (passive [0], semipassive [1 to 4], equally shared involvement between patient and surgeon [5], semiactive [6 to 9], active [10]).Patients preferred semipassive roles in 92% of decisions assessed. Patients wanted to be most involved in scheduling surgical treatments (4.75 ± 2.65) and least involved in determining incision sizes (1.13 ± 1.98). No difference exists in desired decision-making responsibility between patients who had undergone orthopaedic surgery previously and those who had not. Younger and educated patients preferred more decision-making responsibility. Those with Medicare desired more passive roles.Despite the importance of shared decision making on delivering patient-centered care, our results suggest that patients do not prefer to share all decisions.

    View details for DOI 10.5435/JAAOS-D-19-00146

    View details for PubMedID 31567900

  • National Trends in the Diagnosis of CRPS after Open and Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release. Journal of wrist surgery Mertz, K., Trunzter, J., Wu, E., Barnes, J., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2019; 8 (3): 209–14


    Background  Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) occurs in 2 to 8% of patients that receive open or endoscopic carpal tunnel release (CTR). Because CRPS is difficult to treat after onset, identifying risk factors can inform prevention. We determined the incidence of CRPS following open and endoscopic CTR using a national claims database. We also examined whether psychosocial conditions were associated with CRPS after CTR. Methods  We accessed insurance claims using diagnostic and procedural codes. We calculated the incidence of CRPS following open carpal tunnel release and endoscopic carpal tunnel release within 1 year. The response variable was the presence of CRPS after CTR. Explanatory variables included procedure type, age, gender, and preoperative diagnosis of anxiety or depression. Results  The number of open CTRs (85% of total) outweighs the number of endoscopic procedures. In younger patients, the percentage of endoscopic CTRs is increasing. Rates of CRPS are nearly identical between surgery types for both privately insured (0.3%) and Medicare patients (0.1%). Middle aged (range: 40-64 years) and female patients had significantly higher rates of CRPS than did the general population. Preoperative psychosocial conditions did not correlate with the presence of CRPS in surgical patients. Clinical Relevance  The decision between endoscopic and open CTR should not be made out of concern for development of CRPS postsurgery, as rates are low and similar for both procedures. Rates of CRPS found in this study are much lower than rates found in previous studies, indicating inconsistency in diagnosis and reporting or generalizability of prior work. Preoperative psychosocial disorders and CRPS are unrelated.

    View details for DOI 10.1055/s-0039-1678674

    View details for PubMedID 31192042

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6546494

  • Can the QuickDASH PROM be Altered by First Completing the Tasks on the Instrument? Clinical orthopaedics and related research Shapiro, L. M., Harris, A. H., Eppler, S. L., Kamal, R. N. 2019


    Health systems and payers use patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) to inform quality improvement and value-based payment models. Although it is known that psychosocial factors and priming influence PROMs, we sought to determine the effect of having patients complete functional tasks before completing the PROM questionnaire, which has not been extensively evaluated.(1) Will QuickDASH scores change after patients complete the tasks on the questionnaire compared with baseline QuickDASH scores? (2) Will the change in QuickDASH score in an intervention (task completion) group be different than that of a control group? (3) Will a higher proportion of patients in the intervention group than those in the control group improve their QuickDASH scores by greater than a minimally clinically important difference (MCID) of 14 points?During a 2-month period, 140 patients presented at our clinic with a hand or upper-extremity problem. We approached patients who spoke and read English and were 18 years old or older. One hundred thirty-two (94%) patients met the inclusion criteria and agreed to participate (mean ± SD age, 52 ± 17 years; 60 men [45%], 72 women [55%]; 112 in the intervention group [85%] and 20 in the control group [15%]). First, all patients who completed the QuickDASH PROM (at baseline) were recruited for participation. Intervention patients completed the functional tasks on the QuickDASH and completed a followup QuickDASH. Control patients were recruited and enrolled after the intervention group completed the study. Participants in the control group completed the QuickDASH at baseline and a followup QuickDASH 5 minutes after (the time required to complete the functional tasks). Paired and unpaired t-tests were used to evaluate the null hypotheses that (1) QuickDASH scores for the intervention group would not change after the tasks on the instrument were completed and (2) the change in QuickDASH score in the intervention group would not be different than that of the control group (p < 0.05). To evaluate the clinical importance of the change in score after tasks were completed, we recorded the number of patients with a change greater than an MCID of 14 points on the QuickDASH. Fisher's exact test was used to evaluate the difference between groups in those reaching an MCID of 14.In the intervention group, the QuickDASH score decreased after the intervention (39 ± 24 versus 25 ± 19; mean difference, -14 points [95% CI, 12 to 16]; p < 0.001). The change in QuickDASH scores was greater in the intervention group than that in the control group (-14 ± 11 versus -2 ± 9 [95% CI, -17 to -7]; p < 0.001). A larger proportion of patients in the intervention group than in the control group demonstrated an improvement in QuickDASH scores greater than the 14-point MCID ([43 of 112 [38%] versus two of 20 [10%]; odds ratio, 5.4 [95% CI, 1 to 24%]; p = 0.019).Reported disability can be reduced, thereby improving PROMs, if patients complete QuickDASH tasks before completing the questionnaire. Modifiable factors that influence PROM scores and the context in which scores are measured should be analyzed before PROMs are broadly implemented into reimbursement models and quality measures for orthopaedic surgery. Standardizing PROM administration can limit the influence of context, such as task completion, on outcome scores and should be used in value-based payment models.Level II, therapeutic study.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/CORR.0000000000000731

    View details for PubMedID 31107324

  • Patients Should Define Value in Health Care: A Conceptual Framework JOURNAL OF HAND SURGERY-AMERICAN VOLUME Kamal, R. N., Lindsay, S. E., Eppler, S. L. 2018; 43 (11): 1030–34
  • Patient Perceptions Correlate Weakly With Observed Patient Involvement in Decision-making in Orthopaedic Surgery CLINICAL ORTHOPAEDICS AND RELATED RESEARCH Mertz, K., Eppler, S., Yao, J., Amanatullah, D. F., Chou, L., Wood, K. B., Safran, M., Steffner, R., Gardner, M., Kamal, R. 2018; 476 (9): 1859–65
  • Complication rates by surgeon type after open treatment of distal radius fractures. European journal of orthopaedic surgery & traumatology : orthopedie traumatologie Truntzer, J., Mertz, K., Eppler, S., Li, K., Gardner, M., Kamal, R. 2018


    BACKGROUND: In distal radius fracture repair, complications often lead to reoperation and increased cost. We examined the trends and complications in open reduction internal fixation of distal radius fractures across hand specialist and non-hand specialist surgeons.METHODS: We examined claims data from the Humana administrative claims database between 2007 and 2016. International Classification of Disease, 9th Edition and Current Procedural Terminology codes were searched related to distal radius fractures repaired by open reduction internal fixation. Patients were filtered based on initial treatment by a hand specialty or non-hand specialty surgeon. Complications were reported within 1year of surgical treatment in the following distinct categories: non-union, malunion, extensor/flexor tendon repair, CRPS, infection. Descriptive statistics were reported.RESULTS: Hand specialists accounted for 182 procedures compared with 7708 procedures by non-hand specialty orthopaedic or general surgeons. There was an increase in the total number of procedures performed by hand specialists across the years of study, with a higher percentage of intra-articular cases completed by hand specialists (80.7%) compared to non-hand specialists (70.1%). Overall, the complication rates of hand specialists (6.5%) were higher than that of non-specialists (4.7%).CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study demonstrate a small difference in overall complications for open reduction internal fixation of distal radius fractures by hand specialists in comparison to non-specialists despite treating a higher percentage of intra-articular fractures. Future work controlling for factors unaccounted for in claims-based analyses, such as fracture complexity, patient comorbidities, and surgeon factors are needed.TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic IV.

    View details for PubMedID 29922979