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Evaluating diagnosis-based case-mix measures: how well do they apply to the VA population?

Rosen AK, Loveland S, Anderson JJ, Rothendler JA, Hankin CS, Rakovski CC, Moskowitz MA, Berlowitz DR. Evaluating diagnosis-based case-mix measures: how well do they apply to the VA population? Medical care. 2001 Jul 1; 39(7):692-704.

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BACKGROUND: Diagnosis-based case-mix measures are increasingly used for provider profiling, resource allocation, and capitation rate setting. Measures developed in one setting may not adequately capture the disease burden in other settings. OBJECTIVES: To examine the feasibility of adapting two such measures, Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACGs) and Diagnostic Cost Groups (DCGs), to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) population. RESEARCH DESIGN: A 60% random sample of veterans who used health care services during FY 1997 was obtained from VA inpatient and outpatient administrative databases. A split-sample technique was used to obtain a 40% sample (n = 1,046,803) for development and a 20% sample (n = 524,461) for validation. METHODS: Concurrent ACG and DCG risk adjustment models, using 1997 diagnoses and demographics to predict FY 1997 utilization (ambulatory provider encounters, and service days-the sum of a patient's inpatient and outpatient visit days), were fitted and cross-validated. RESULTS: Patients were classified into groupings that indicated a population with multiple psychiatric and medical diseases. Model R-squares explained between 6% and 32% of the variation in service utilization. Although reparameterized models did better in predicting utilization than models with external weights, none of the models was adequate in characterizing the entire population. For predicting service days, DCGs were superior to ACGs in most categories, whereas ACGs did better at discriminating among veterans who had the lowest utilization. CONCLUSIONS: Although "off-the-shelf" case-mix measures perform moderately well when applied to another setting, modifications may be required to accurately characterize a population's disease burden with respect to the resource needs of all patients.

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