The Impact of High-Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation on Healthcare Use in Patients with Neuromuscular Diseases

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2016 Jun;13(6):904-9. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201509-597OC.


Rationale: People with neuromuscular disease frequently have difficulty clearing pulmonary secretions, which leads to pneumonia and respiratory failure. High-frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) is one intervention used to facilitate secretion clearance.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine if HFCWO therapy leads to improved outcomes as measured by lower healthcare use for patients who have a chronic neuromuscular disease.

Methods: We performed a cohort study comparing healthcare claims before and after initiation of HFCWO. Data were obtained from two large databases of commercial insurance claims. Study subjects were commercial insurance members with an International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, code for a neuromuscular disease and a claim for HFCWO between 2007 and 2011. The study included both children and adults.

Measurements and main results: There were 426 patients in this study. Their mean age was 29.9 ± 22 years. Total medical costs per member per month decreased by $1,949 (18.6%) after initiation of HFCWO (P = 0.002). Inpatient admission costs decreased by $2,392 (41.7%) (P = 0.001), and pneumonia costs decreased by $514 (18.1%) (P = 0.015). To account for the possibilities of misclassification based on diagnosis and bias due to loss to follow-up, we compared outcomes between those lost to follow-up and those not, and we found similar results.

Conclusions: Total medical costs, hospitalizations, and pneumonia claims were less after than before initiation of HFCWO in a broad group of patients with neuromuscular disease. Subject to the limitations that administrative data did not capture how HFCWO was used and that HFCWO may be a marker of generally better care, our findings lend support to the routine use of this intervention in the care of patients with neuromuscular diseases.

Keywords: airway clearance; healthcare use; motor neuron disease; muscular dystrophy; quadriplegia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chest Wall Oscillation / economics*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Review
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / complications*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Young Adult