Measuring the value of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography activity: an opportunity to stratify endoscopists on the basis of their value

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Abstract

Introduction

As finite healthcare resources come under pressure, the value of physician activity is assuming increasing importance. The value in healthcare can be defined as patient health outcomes achieved per monetary unit spent. Even though some attempts have been made to quantify the value of clinician activity, there is little in the medical literature describing the importance of endoscopists’ activity. This study aimed to characterize the value of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) performance of five gastroenterologists.

Patients and methods

We carried out a retrospective–prospective cohort study using the databases of patients undergoing ERCP between September 2014 and March 2017. We collected data from 1070 patients who underwent ERCP comparing value among the ERCPists at index ERCP. Procedure value was calculated using the formula Q/(T/C), where Q is the quality of procedure, T is the duration of procedure and C is the adjusted for complexity level. Quality and complexity were derived on a 1–4 Likert scale on the basis of American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy criteria; time was recorded (in min) from intubation to extubation. Endoscopist time calculated from procedure time was considered a surrogate marker of cost as individual components of procedure cost were not itemized.

Results

In total, 590 procedures were analysed: 465 retrospectively over 24 months and 125 prospectively over 6 months. There was a 32% variation in the value of endoscopist activity in a more substantial retrospective cohort, with an even more considerable 73% variation in a smaller prospective arm.

Conclusion

In an analysis of greater than 1000 ERCPs by a small cohort of experienced ERCPists, there was a wide variation in the value of endoscopist activity. Although the precision of estimating procedural costs needs further refinement, these findings show the ability to stratify ERCPists on the basis of the value their activity. As healthcare costs are scrutinized more closely, such value measurements are likely to become more relevant.

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