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Lund BC, Carrel M, Gellad WF, Chrischilles EA, Kaboli PJ. Incidence- Versus Prevalence-Based Measures of Inappropriate Prescribing in the Veterans Health Administration. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2015 Aug 1; 63(8):1601-7.
OBJECTIVES: To describe variations in potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP) and characterize the extent to which switching to an incidence-based indicator would affect health system quality rankings. DESIGN: Observational study. SETTING: Veterans Health Administration in 2011. PARTICIPANTS: Older adults receiving outpatient primary care. MEASUREMENTS: PIP was defined according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance High-Risk Medications in the Elderly list. Ranks were separately assigned for prevalent and incident PIP at the regional, network, and healthcare system levels. RESULTS: National PIP prevalence was 12.3% (167,766/1,360,251), and incidence was 5.8% (78,604/1,360,251). PIP prevalence ranged from 3.5% to 33.1% across healthcare systems (interquartile range (IQR) = 9.2-15.5%). PIP incidence ranged from 1.2% to 14.9% (IQR = 4.1-7.2%). Rank order in PIP prevalence and incidence was correlated (Spearman correlation; ? = 0.934, P < .001), although substantial changes in ranks were seen for some healthcare systems, with seven of 139 (5.0%) systems shifting more than 30 rank positions and 21 (15.1%) systems shifting 16 to 30 positions. CONCLUSION: Prevalence- and incidence-based indicators of prescribing quality were strongly correlated. Transitioning to incidence-based indicators would not produce an initial disruption in quality rankings for most healthcare systems and might yield more-salient measures for tracking healthcare quality.