The disproportionate growth of office-based atherectomy

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the trends in procedure volume, clinical sites of care, and Medicare expenditure for peripheral vascular interventions (PVIs) for lower extremity occlusive disease since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instituted reimbursement policy changes that broadened payment for procedures performed in physician-owned office-based laboratories (OBLs).

Methods:

We analyzed fee-for-service Medicare claims data from 2011 to 2014 to obtain the frequency of use of PVI by type, care setting, and physician specialty. We also assessed changes in the total Medicare cost for PVI by setting.

Results:

There was a 60% increase in atherectomy cases among Medicare beneficiaries between 2011 and 2014. During the same period, OBLs experienced a 298% increase in atherectomy volume vs a 27% increase in hospital outpatient settings and an 11% decrease for inpatient hospital settings. In 2014, OBLs were the most common setting for atherectomy. Nonatherectomy PVIs grew more modestly at just 3% but also experienced site of care shifts. Vascular surgeons and cardiologists accounted for the majority of office-based PVIs in 2014. Total Medicare costs for PVIs increased 18% from 2011 to 2014. Hospital inpatient costs declined 1%, whereas costs for hospital outpatient PVIs increased by 41% and physician office costs increased by 258%.

Conclusions:

The migration of revascularization procedures for lower extremity peripheral arterial occlusive disease continues from the inpatient to the outpatient setting and especially to OBLs. Increased use of atherectomy in all segments of the lower extremity arterial system has been observed, particularly in OBLs, without substantial evidence in the literature of increased efficacy compared with standard angioplasty with or without stenting. Generous Medicare reimbursement for in-office atherectomy procedures is likely contributing to the volume shifts observed.

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