Risk-standardized Acute Admission Rates Among Patients With Diabetes and Heart Failure as a Measure of Quality of Accountable Care Organizations: Rationale, Methods, and Early Results

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Population-based measures of admissions among patients with chronic conditions are important quality indicators of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), yet there are challenges in developing measures that enable fair comparisons among providers.


On the basis of consensus standards for outcome measure development and with expert and stakeholder input on methods decisions, we developed and tested 2 models of risk-standardized acute admission rates (RSAARs) for patients with diabetes and heart failure using 2010–2012 Medicare claims data. Model performance was assessed with deviance R2; score reliability was tested with intraclass correlation coefficient. We estimated RSAARs for 114 Shared Savings Program ACOs in 2012 and we assigned ACOs to 3 performance categories: no different, worse than, and better than the national rate.


The diabetes and heart failure cohorts included 6.5 and 2.6 million Medicare Fee-For-Service beneficiaries aged 65 years and above, respectively. Risk-adjustment variables were age, comorbidities, and condition-specific severity variables, but not socioeconomic status or other contextual factors. We selected hierarchical negative binomial models with the outcome of acute, unplanned hospital admissions per 100 person-years. For the diabetes and heart failure measures, respectively, the models accounted for 22% and 12% of the deviance in outcomes and score reliability was 0.89 and 0.81. For the diabetes measure, 51 (44.7%) ACOs were no different, 45 (39.5%) were better, and 18 (15.8%) were worse than the national rate. The distribution of performance for the heart failure measure was 61 (53.5%), 37 (32.5%), and 16 (14.0%), respectively.


Measures of RSAARs for patients with diabetes and heart failure meet criteria for scientific soundness and reveal important variation in quality across ACOs.

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