Health interventions and policies for high-cost health care users (HCUs) who are older adults need to be informed by a better understanding of their multimorbidity and medication use. This study aims to determine the financial contribution of medications to HCU expenditures and explore whether potentially inappropriate prescribing is associated with incident HCU development.
This is a protocol for a retrospective population-based matched cohort analysis of incident older adult HCUs (those with the highest 5% of costs and 66 years of age or older) in Ontario during fiscal year 2013. We will obtain person-level data for the index year and year before HCU status from health administrative databases and match each HCU to 3 non-HCUs based on age, sex and geographic location. Average annual medication costs (per patient) and the ratio of medication to total health care costs (at population level) will be examined over the HCU transition period and compared with non-HCUs. We will explore potential quality improvement areas for prescribing by analyzing chronic conditions and the use of medications with a strong evidence base for either clinical benefit or risk of harms outweighing benefits in older adults with these diagnoses. The relation between these medication classes and incident HCU status will be explored using logistic regression.
Using a matched cohort design and focusing on incident rather than prevalent HCUs, this protocol will explore our hypotheses that medications and the quality of their prescribing may be important triggers of HCU status and facilitate the identification of potential preventive clinical interventions or policies. Dissemination of results will occur via publications in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at conferences and academic settings, and knowledge translation activities with relevant health system and patient stakeholder groups.
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