Objective: To assess the real-world medical services utilization and associated costs of Medicare patients with diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) treated with Apligraf (bioengineered living cellular construct (BLCC)) or Dermagraft (human fibroblast-derived dermal substitute (HFDS)) compared with those receiving conventional care (CC).
Methods: DFU patients were selected from Medicare de-identified administrative claims using ICD-9-CM codes. The analysis followed an 'intent-to-treat' design, with cohorts assigned based on use of (1) BLCC, (2) HFDS, or (3) CC (i.e., ≥1 claim for a DFU-related treatment procedure or podiatrist visit and no evidence of skin substitute use) for treatment of DFU in 2006-2012. Propensity score models were used to separately match BLCC and HFDS patients to CC patients with similar baseline demographics, wound severity, and physician experience measures. Medical resource use, lower-limb amputation rates, and total healthcare costs (2012 USD; from payer perspective) during the 18 months following treatment initiation were compared among the resulting matched samples.
Results: Data for 502 matched BLCC-CC patient pairs and 222 matched HFDS-CC patient pairs were analyzed. Increased costs associated with outpatient service utilization relative to matched CC patients were offset by lower amputation rates (-27.6% BLCC, -22.2% HFDS), fewer days hospitalized (-33.3% BLCC, -42.4% HFDS), and fewer emergency department visits (-32.3% BLCC, -25.7% HFDS) among BLCC/HFDS patients. Consequently, BLCC and HFDS patients had per-patient average healthcare costs during the 18-month follow-up period that were lower than their respective matched CC counterparts (-$5253 BLCC, -$6991 HFDS).
Limitations: Findings relied on accuracy of diagnosis and procedure codes contained in the claims data, and did not account for outcomes and costs beyond 18 months after treatment initiation.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that use of BLCC and HFDS for treatment of DFU may lower overall medical costs through reduced utilization of costly healthcare services.