As part of the diagnosis related groups in Europe (EuroDRG) project, researchers from 11 countries (i.e. Austria, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden) compared how their DRG systems deal with patients admitted to hospital for acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The study aims to assist cardiologists and national authorities to optimize their DRG systems.Methods and results
National or regional databases were used to identify hospital cases with a primary diagnosis of AMI. Diagnosis-related group classification algorithms and indicators of resource consumption were compared for those DRGs that individually contained at least 1% of cases. Six standardized case vignettes were defined, and quasi prices according to national DRG-based hospital payment systems were ascertained. European DRG systems vary widely: they classify AMI patients according to different sets of variables into diverging numbers of DRGs (between 4 DRGs in Estonia and 16 DRGs in France). The most complex DRG is valued 11 times more resource intensive than an index case in Estonia but only 1.38 times more resource intensive than an index case in England. Comparisons of quasi prices for the case vignettes show that hypothetical payments for the index case amount to only €420 in Poland but to €7930 in Ireland.Conclusions
Large variation exists in the classification of AMI patients across Europe. Cardiologists and national DRG authorities should consider how other countries' DRG systems classify AMI patients in order to identify potential scope for improvement and to ensure fair and appropriate reimbursement.