WHAT IS KNOWN AND OBJECTIVE: Pharmacy claims are commonly used to assess medication adherence. It is unclear how different approaches to handling hospitalizations compare to the gold standard of using outpatient and inpatient drug data. This study aimed to compare the impact of different approaches to handling hospitalizations on medication adherence estimation in administrative claims data.
METHODS: We identified β-blocker initiators after myocardial infarction (MI) and statin initiators regardless of hospitalization histories in the population-based, Taiwan database, which includes outpatient and inpatient drug claims data. Adherence to β-blockers or to statins during a 365-day follow-up period was estimated in outpatient pharmacy claims using the proportion of days covered (PDC) in three ways: ignoring hospitalizations (PDC1); subtracting hospitalized days from the denominator (PDC2); and assuming drug use on all hospitalized days (PDC3). We compared these to an approach that incorporated inpatient drug use (PDC4). We also used a hypothetical example to examine variations across approaches in several scenarios, such as increasing hospitalized days.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Mean 365-day PDC was 74% among 1729 post-MI β-blocker initiators (range: 73.1%-74.9%) and 44% among 69 435 statins initiators (range: 43.5%-44.0%), which varied little across approaches. Differences across approaches increased with increasing number of hospitalized days. For patients hospitalized for >28 days, mean difference across approaches was >15%. PDC3 consistently yielded the highest value and PDC1 the lowest.
WHAT IS NEW AND CONCLUSIONS: On average, different approaches to handling hospitalizations lead to similar adherence estimates to the gold standard of incorporating inpatient drug use. When patients have many hospitalization days during follow-up, the choice of approach should be tailored to the specific setting.