A comparison of administrative claims-based risk predictors for pediatric asthma

Am J Manag Care. 2021 Dec;27(12):533-537. doi: 10.37765/ajmc.2021.88792.


Objectives: Head-to-head comparisons are needed to determine the most accurate and appropriate administrative claims-based exacerbation risk predictor for emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations among children with asthma.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study.

Methods: We analyzed 2013-2014 MarketScan Medicaid data. Children aged 2 to 17 years were included. Seven risk predictors were compared for accuracy in predicting 3-month subsequent ED visits/hospitalizations for asthma: 3-month rolling asthma medication ratio (AMR), Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) criteria, revised HEDIS criteria, quarterly short-acting β-agonist (SABA) claims, prior ED visit, prior hospitalization, and prior ED visit or hospitalization. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value (NPV), and percentage of population identified as high risk were compared for each risk predictor utilizing the McNemar test to identify statistically significant differences in risk prediction accuracy.

Results: A total of 214,452 children were included; the mean age was 7.8 years. HEDIS and revised HEDIS identified prohibitively large cohorts as high risk (67% and 48%, respectively). For the remaining measures, the NPV range is narrow (97%-99%), indicating high performance at identifying patients who would not benefit from intervention. The ED visit and ED/hospitalization measures have superior sensitivities (44% and 49%, respectively) compared with pharmacy claims-based measures (AMR [5%] and SABA count [10%]). Pharmacy claims-based measures identify a smaller proportion of patients as high risk and maintain high NPV.

Conclusions: Pharmacy-based asthma exacerbation risk predictors such as the AMR and SABA count can rule out low-risk patients with a high degree of specificity and NPV, which is a primary goal of real-time risk monitoring in pediatric asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma* / diagnosis
  • Asthma* / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Medicaid
  • Retrospective Studies