Prior Authorization in Total Joint Arthroplasty: A Survey of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Membership

Document Type


Publication Date




Journal Title

The Journal of Arthroplasty


BACKGROUND: This study surveyed the impact that prior authorization has on the practices of total joint arthroplasty (TJA) members of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) METHODS: A 24-question survey was approved by the AAHKS Advocacy Committee and distributed to all 2,802 board-certified members of AAHKS. RESULTS: There were 353 survey responses (13%). Ninety-five percent of surgeons noted a 5-year increase in prior authorization. A majority (71%) of practices employ at least one staff member to exclusively work on prior authorization. Average time spent on prior authorization was 15 hours/week (range, 1 to 125) and average number of claims peer week was 18 (range, 1 to 250). Surgeries (99%) were the most common denial. These were denied because non-operative treatment had not been tried (71%) or had not been attempted for enough time (67%). Most (57%) prior authorization processes rarely/never changed the treatment provided. Most (56%) indicated that prior authorization rarely/never followed evidence-based guidelines. A majority (93%) expressed high administrative burden as well as negative clinical outcomes (87%) due to prior authorization including delays to access care (96%) at least sometimes. CONCLUSIONS: Prior authorization has increased in the past 5 years resulting in high administrative burden. Prior authorizations were most common for TJA surgeries because certain nonoperative treatments were not attempted or not attempted for enough time. Surgeons indicated that prior authorization may be detrimental to high value care and lead to potentially harmful delays in care without ultimately changing the management of the patient.