Objectives: To develop a systems approach to identify, for further evaluation, patients with potential controlled substance misuse or mismanagement using software queries applied to administrative health claims data.
Study design: Retrospective validation of the system using insurance claims.
Patients and methods: Data from administrative health claims databases representing nearly 7 million individuals younger than 65 years were used by multidisciplinary expert panels to develop and validate controlled substance patterns of utilization requiring evaluation (CS-PURE) criteria.
Results: Thirty-four CS-PURE queries were developed in SAS and applied to administrative claims records to identify patients with potential controlled substance misuse or mismanagement. From these, we identified 10 CS-PURE with the highest expert agreement that intervention was warranted. Expert panel agree, ment that CS-PURE correctly identified cases ranged from 48% to 100%, with at least 50% agreement in 9 of 10 CS-PURE. The prevalence rates for CS-PURE ranged from 0.001% to 0.252%. This translates to identifying between 5 and 1116 patients for individual CS-PURE in a 500 000-member health plan.
Conclusions: We developed and empirically validated a group of queries using CS-PURE to identify patients with potential controlled substance misuse or mismanagement that would warrant further evaluation by the treating physician, a quality assurance function, or the medical director. Claims-based CS-PURE identification is generalizable to most health insurers with access to medical and pharmaceutical claims records. Although CS-PURE are not direct measures of misuse, they can direct attention to potential problems to determine if intervention is needed.