Predicting Acute Exacerbations in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2018 Mar;24(3):265-279. doi: 10.18553/jmcp.2018.24.3.265.


Background: With increasing health care costs that have outpaced those of other industries, payers of health care are moving from a fee-for-service payment model to one in which reimbursement is tied to outcomes. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease where this payment model has been implemented by some payers, and COPD exacerbations are a quality metric that is used. Under an outcomes-based payment model, it is important for health systems to be able to identify patients at risk for poor outcomes so that they can target interventions to improve outcomes.

Objective: To develop and evaluate predictive models that could be used to identify patients at high risk for COPD exacerbations.

Methods: This study was retrospective and observational and included COPD patients treated with a bronchodilator-based combination therapy. We used health insurance claims data to obtain demographics, enrollment information, comorbidities, medication use, and health care resource utilization for each patient over a 6-month baseline period. Exacerbations were examined over a 6-month outcome period and included inpatient (primary discharge diagnosis for COPD), outpatient, and emergency department (outpatient/emergency department visits with a COPD diagnosis plus an acute prescription for an antibiotic or corticosteroid within 5 days) exacerbations. The cohort was split into training (75%) and validation (25%) sets. Within the training cohort, stepwise logistic regression models were created to evaluate risk of exacerbations based on factors measured during the baseline period. Models were evaluated using sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values. The base model included all confounding or effect modifier covariates. Several other models were explored using different sets of observations and variables to determine the best predictive model.

Results: There were 478,772 patients included in the analytic sample, of which 40.5% had exacerbations during the outcome period. Patients with exacerbations had slightly more comorbidities, medication use, and health care resource utilization compared with patients without exacerbations. In the base model, sensitivity was 41.6% and specificity was 85.5%. Positive and negative predictive values were 66.2% and 68.2%, respectively. Other models that were evaluated resulted in similar test characteristics as the base model.

Conclusions: In this study, we were not able to predict COPD exacerbations with a high level of accuracy using health insurance claims data from COPD patients treated with bronchodilator-based combination therapy. Future studies should be done to explore predictive models for exacerbations.

Disclosures: No outside funding supported this study. Samp is now employed by, and owns stock in, AbbVie. The other authors have nothing to disclose. Study concept and design were contributed by Joo and Pickard, along with the other authors. Samp and Lee performed the data analysis, with assistance from the other authors. Samp wrote the manuscript, which was revised by Schumock and Calip, along with the other authors.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Reporting / trends*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies