Trends in High- And Low-Value Cardiovascular Diagnostic Testing in Fee-for-Service Medicare, 2000-2016

Vinay Kini*, Timea Viragh, David Magid, Frederick A. Masoudi, Ali Moghtaderi, Bernard Black

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Importance: Owing to a rapid increase in rates of diagnostic cardiovascular testing in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services implemented a series of payment changes intended to reduce overall spending on fee-for-service testing. Whether guideline-concordant testing has been subsequently affected is unknown to date. Objective: To determine whether changes in overall rates of use of diagnostic cardiovascular tests were associated with changes in high-value testing recommended by guidelines and low-value testing that is expected to provide minimal benefits. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study assessed a national 5% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 to 95 years from January 1, 1999, through December 31, 2016. Data were analyzed from February 15, 2018, through August 15, 2019. Exposures: Eligibility to receive high-value testing (assessment of left ventricular systolic function among patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction or heart failure) and low-value testing (stress testing before low-risk noncardiac surgery and routine stress testing within 2 years of coronary revascularization not associated with acute care visits). Main Outcomes and Measures: Age- and sex-adjusted annual rates of overall, high-value, and low-value diagnostic cardiovascular testing. Results: Mean (SD) age was similar over time (75.57 [7.32] years in 2000-2003; 74.82 [7.79] years in 2012-2016); the proportion of women slightly declined over time (63.23% in 2000 to 2003; 57.27% in 2012 to 2016). The rate of overall diagnostic cardiovascular testing per 1000 patient-years among the 5% sample of Medicare beneficiaries increased from 275 in 2000 to 359 in 2008 (P <.001) and then declined to 316 in 2016 (P <.001). High-value testing increased steadily over the entire study period for patients with acute myocardial infarction (85.7% to 89.5%; P <.001) and heart failure (72.6% to 80.1%; P <.001). Low-value testing among patients undergoing low-risk surgery increased from 2.4% in 2000 to 3.8% in 2008 (P <.001) but then declined to 2.5% in 2016 (P <.001). Low-value testing within 2 years of coronary revascularization slightly increased from 47.4% in 2000 to 49.2% in 2003 (P =.03) but then declined to 30.8% in 2014 (P <.001). Conclusions and Relevance: Rates of overall and low-value diagnostic cardiovascular testing appear to have declined considerably and rates of high-value testing have increased slightly. Payment changes intended to reduce spending on overall testing may not have adversely affected testing recommended by guidelines..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1913070
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 9 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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