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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 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)
Pages (from-to)e1913070
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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