Preparing for participation in the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' bundle care payment initiative-advanced for major bowel surgery

Perioper Med (Lond). 2022 Dec 9;11(1):54. doi: 10.1186/s13741-022-00286-9.


Background: As healthcare costs rise, there is an increasing emphasis on alternative payment models to improve care efficiency. The bundled payment represents an alternative reimbursement model gaining popularity within the surgical sphere. We aimed to assess where the largest opportunities for care improvement lay and how best to identify patients at high risk of suffering costly complications.

Methods: We utilized itemized CMS claims data for a retrospective cohort of patients between 2014 and 2016 who met inclusion criteria for the Major Bowel Bundled Payment Program and performed a cost analysis to identify opportunities for improved care efficiency. Based on the results of this cost analysis, we identified readmissions as a target for improvement. We then assessed whether the American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program surgical risk calculator (ACS NSQIP SRC) could accurately identify patients within our bundled payment population who were at high risk of readmission using a logistic regression model.

Results: Our study cohort included 252 patients. Readmissions accounted for 12.8% of the average total care episode cost with a coefficient of variation of 2.72, thereby representing the most substantial, non-fixed cost for our bundled payment patients. Patients readmitted within their 90-day care episode were 2.53 times more likely to be high-cost (>$60,000) than patients not readmitted. However, the ACS NSQIP SRC did not accurately predict patients at high risk of readmission within the first 30 days with an AUROC of 0.58.

Conclusions: Our study highlights the importance of reducing readmissions as a central component of improving care for bowel surgery bundled payment patients. Preventing such readmissions requires accurate identification of patients at high risk of readmission; however, current risk prediction models lack the adaptability necessary for this task.

Keywords: Alternative payment models; Bundled payment; Surgical outcomes; Surgical readmissions; Surgical risk calculator.