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Latest MVC Preop Testing Report Features New Figures and Data

Latest MVC Preop Testing Report Features New Figures and Data

This week MVC distributed its second preoperative testing push report of 2022, providing members with another opportunity to benchmark their testing practices. MVC first introduced its preoperative testing push reports in 2021 to help members reduce the use of unnecessary testing for surgical procedures. Preoperative testing, especially for low-risk surgeries, often provides no clinical benefits to patients but is ordered regularly at hospitals across Michigan.

The report distributed this week had many similarities to the version distributed earlier this year in April, namely that members continued to see their rates across a variety of tests for three elective, low-risk procedures performed in outpatient settings: laparoscopic cholecystectomy, laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, and lumpectomy. Claims were evaluated for the index event as well as 30 days prior to the procedures for the following common tests: electrocardiogram (ECGs), echocardiogram, cardiac stress test, complete blood count, basic metabolic panel, coagulation studies, urinalysis, chest x-ray, and pulmonary function.

The latest report has a few key differences from the spring version, the most significant of which is that it utilizes claims from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and Blue Care Network (BCN) plans exclusively. This allows members to see MVC’s most up-to-date data; the report includes index admissions from 1/1/2019 through 12/31/2021. In addition, since the report contains BCBSM/BCN data only, there is no case count suppression, whereas members would only see their data in the spring version if they had at least 11 cases in each year of data for the three combined conditions.

The reports received by members this week included several new figures. Similar to other MVC push reports, members will now see a patient snapshot table that provides additional information about the report’s patient population. For this, MVC chose to include patient characteristics such as age, zip code, and comorbidities. Generally speaking, there were more comorbidities among patients who underwent preoperative testing compared to patients with one or no comorbidities (see Figure 1). However, the majority of patients who complete a preoperative test do not have multiple comorbidities. There were also observed differences in testing rates by age. In general, patients who had preoperative testing were older on average than patients who had no preoperative testing.

Figure 1.

Another new figure showcased the overall preoperative testing rates by year. This trend graph showed members how their overall rate for any preoperative testing compared in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and it included data points for the MVC average and regional comparison groups (see Figure 2). The key finding for this figure was that there has been very little change in testing rates over time when looking at overall preoperative testing practices. This means that, in general, the prevalence of low-value preoperative testing has remained consistently high overall across the collaborative for three years and likely longer.

Figure 2.

The latest report also included a new figure for absolute change in any preoperative testing from 2019 to 2021. For each hospital, this appears as a caterpillar plot of absolute change percentages for their highest-volume procedure among the three low-risk surgeries in the report. Members can see the percentage change—positive or negative—in their testing rate for that surgical condition, as well as how their absolute change compares to the rest of the collaborative. For example, hospitals that perform more cholecystectomies than hernia repairs or lumpectomies saw a wide range of both increases and decreases in preoperative testing rates from 2019 to 2021 (see Figure 3).

Figure 3.

The blinded hospital in this example observed very little change in its testing rate for cholecystectomy (-1.6%), and the MVC average was similar (-2.2%). This showcases that although the collaborative is not seeing much change to overall rates for any testing over time, individual members might see greater variability over time for specific tests or procedures, especially in instances of low case counts.

Members will be able to take those deeper dives into their rates for specific tests in the figures that make up the remaining pages of the report. Viewing one’s preoperative testing rates for each specific test can help members understand if any specific tests are driving their overall testing rate. One area of opportunity, for example, could be to reduce one's rate of cardiac testing, specifically ECGs; the rate of ECGs is very variable across the collaborative (see Figure 4) and could lead to a cascade of care.

Figure 4.

MVC is eager to drive improvement in this area. For more information on how MVC is working to reduce unnecessary preoperative testing, visit its Value Coalition Campaign webpage here. If you are interested in a more customized report or would like information about MVC’s preop testing stakeholder working group, please contact the MVC Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

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MVC Integrates Surgeon-Level Data in Latest Preop Reports

MVC Integrates Surgeon-Level Data in Latest Preop Reports

In 2020, the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) introduced the Preoperative Testing Value Coalition Campaign (VCC) with the aim of reducing the use of unnecessary preoperative testing for surgical procedures. Preoperative testing, especially in low-risk surgical procedures, often provides no clinical benefits to patients but is ordered regularly at hospitals across Michigan. As part of MVC’s campaign to eliminate unnecessary and potentially harmful preoperative testing, the Coordinating Center developed a related push report, the latest version of which was shared earlier this week to help members benchmark data for common preoperative tests. MVC and the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative (MSQC) partnered to distribute these reports more widely and to encourage clinical and quality personnel to work together in identifying patterns and exploring new strategies.

This iteration of the report is the first to include blinded surgeon-level reporting, which will allow for a more nuanced understanding of variation within a given hospital. To include this, the Coordinating Center attributed one surgeon per episode based on condition-specific BETOS codes and NPI specialty information, with the understanding that the attributed surgeon may not be the individual ordering the preoperative test for that procedure. If their MVC data indicates wide variation between specific providers, hospitals may choose to drill down into their own data to investigate further. For hospitals that have several surgeons with enough cases for these procedures, there was significant variation in testing rates (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Rate of Any Preoperative Test by Surgeon (Blinded Report)

Included in the report were patients undergoing elective and outpatient laparoscopic cholecystectomy, laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, and lumpectomy. It incorporated index admissions between 1/1/2018 – 12/31/2020 for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) PPO Commercial, BCBSM Medicare Advantage, Blue Care Network (BCN) HMO Commercial, BCN Medicare Advantage, Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS), and Michigan Medicaid. Hospitals only received a report if they had 11 or more cases in at least one of the three conditions and at least 11 cases per year in the three procedures combined. The analysis evaluated the use of the following tests using CPT codes: electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac stress test, complete blood count, basic metabolic panel, coagulation studies, urinalysis, chest x-ray, and pulmonary function.

In general, the report demonstrated significant variation in testing rates between members, with some testing rates ranging from 20% to over 90%. Due to the amount of variation, MVC suspects that preoperative testing is overused at the state level such that even hospitals that are average or below average may still have significant opportunities to safely reduce preoperative testing. The report included a table with each hospitals’ rates for each procedure and test, with accompanying comparisons to the rates of regional peers and the collaborative as a whole (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Preoperative Testing Rates Table (Blinded Report)

The report also included figures for preoperative testing rates by specific tests, by payer, and by procedure. The variety of figures is meant to help hospitals better understand its variability in utilization, since specific procedures or tests may be driving their overall testing rate. One figure, for example, presents a hospital's three procedure-specific testing rates alongside their overall or “combined procedures” rate. To more easily identify areas of opportunity to reduce their overall testing rate, a hospital can compare their procedure-specific rates to determine which is driving their average, as well as compare their average to those of their regional peers and the collaborative as a whole (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Rate of Any Preoperative Test by Procedure (Blinded)

In the case of the blinded example above, this hospital is more frequently ordering preoperative testing in cholecystectomy patients but is ordering fewer tests on average than their peers for all procedures combined. This finding is atypical since lumpectomy was found to have a higher testing rate in general; cholecystectomy testing rates were generally lower. In addition, MVC found that electrocardiography and blood tests (complete blood count, basic metabolic panel, coagulation studies) had the highest testing rates across all procedures.

Helping MVC members to make internal and external data comparisons is core to MVC reporting and is critical to its efforts to reduce unnecessary testing. As part of MVC's continued efforts in this area, the Coordinating Center will share hospital-level preoperative testing data at its upcoming semi-annual meeting in order to foster continued awareness of wide practice variation and encourage best practice sharing between members.

MVC is eager to drive improvement in this area. For more information on how MVC is working to reduce unnecessary preoperative testing, visit its Value Coalition Campaign webpage here. If you are interested in a more customized report or would like information about MVC’s preop testing stakeholder working group, please contact the MVC Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

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Reports Identify Opportunity to Reduce Preoperative Testing

Reports Identify Opportunity to Reduce Preoperative Testing

MVC distributed its final push report of 2021 this week when the Coordinating Center distributed preoperative testing reports to members. It provided recipients with refreshed data using only Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan claims in order to provide the most up-to-date and granular preoperative testing information available.

In general, the report demonstrated significant variation in testing rates between members, with preoperative testing rates ranging from 20% to over 90%. The average overall testing rate was 56% when looking at only the BCBSM payers, whereas the rate was 62% when looking at all payers in the earlier version of the report from February of 2021. The report included overall testing rate (Figure 1), preoperative testing rate trends over time (Figure 1), and rates for specific tests and procedures.

Figure 1. Blinded Preoperative Testing Push Report Graphs

Due to the amount of variation, MVC suspects that preoperative testing is overused at the state level such that even hospitals that are average or below average may still have significant opportunities to safely reduce preoperative testing.

Preoperative testing, especially in low-risk surgical procedures, often provides no clinical benefits to patients. Despite this, these services continue to be ordered regularly at hospitals across Michigan. Eliminating unnecessary and, in some cases, potentially harmful preoperative testing represents a clear opportunity to improve value in surgery. The MVC Coordinating Center uses administrative claims data and engagement with MVC members to try and reduce the use of unnecessary preoperative testing for surgical procedures to improve quality, reduce cost, and improve equity of care delivery throughout Michigan. The MVC Coordinating Center’s work on this issue is supported by a stakeholder working group to advise ongoing activity and provide insights on the best approaches to improve member awareness and practices.

This latest preoperative testing report also marked the conclusion of one year’s worth of activity in support of MVC’s Preoperative Testing Value Coalition Campaign. As part of MVC’s commitment to improve the health of Michigan through sustainable, high-value healthcare, the Coordinating Center developed specific focus areas to drive improvement. These are termed ‘Value Coalition Campaigns’ (VCCs).

In an effort to communicate progress on its Preoperative Testing VCC, the Coordinating Center recently compiled a 2021 Preoperative Testing Progress Report (see Figure 2) and included it as an attachment with the most recent report communications. Accomplishments included the development of educational flyers and resources, a published manuscript, partnerships with fellow Collaborative Quality Initiatives (CQIs), and custom analytics prepared for members. In addition, the Coordinating Center set several goals for 2022, such as developing provider-level reporting and hosting a dedicated symposium or workgroup, among others.

Figure 2. MVC 2021 Preoperative Testing VCC Progress Report

The Michigan Value Collaborative is eager to reduce unnecessary preoperative testing. If you are interested in a more customized report on preoperative testing practices at your hospital or physician organization or you want to learn more about the stakeholder working group, please contact the MVC Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.