Yoga therapy = Less expensive hospital stays?

Could yoga therapy really save money for hospitals and health systems? Research is beginning to indicate that the answer is “maybe so!” but a better question from the point of view of a patient in pain is probably, “Could yoga therapy improve outcomes?”

Published in 2018, this particular retrospective analysis is especially interesting because it considered more than 2,700 people who were hospitalized for a range of conditions. (Studies examining complementary and integrative medicine are often much smaller and look at specific clinical populations outside hospital settings.)

Often in research “mind-body therapies” include yoga or, as in this case, tools like relaxation techniques. Although this study didn’t specifically consider yoga, the authors found that, “For patients receiving IM [integrative medicine] therapies, pain was significantly reduced and costs were lowered by about 4%,” or nearly $900 per hospital admission. 

Just the fact that providing this additional care didn’t result in additional costs is noteworthy. More exciting than the monetary savings, though, is the fact that patients who’d received these services reported significantly less pain afterward.

Pain is complex, as are the factors involved in calculating healthcare costs. Yoga therapy can be one effective component in supporting patients in chronic pain, meeting people right where they are in a multifaceted way.

(Yoga therapists: Here are a few resources IAYT has produced over the years to help deepen your understanding of pain. We’ll be adding to this list, too, so be sure to check back.)