Geographic variation in high-cost medical procedure utilization in the USA is not fully explained by patient factors but may be influenced by the supply of procedural physicians and marketing payments.
To examine the association between physician supply, medical device-related marketing payments to physicians, and utilization of knee arthroplasty (KA) and percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) within hospital referral regions (HRRs).
Cross-sectional analysis of data from the 2018 CMS Open Payments database and procedural utilization data from the CMS Provider Utilization and Payment database.
Medicare-participating procedural cardiologists and orthopedic surgeons.
Regional rates of PCIs and KAs per 100,000 Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries were estimated after adjustment for beneficiary demographics.
Across 306 HRRs, there were 109,301 payments (value $17,554,728) to cardiologists for cardiac stents and 68,132 payments (value $40,492,126) to orthopedic surgeons for prosthetic knees. Among HRRs, one additional interventional cardiologist was associated with an increase of 12.9 (CI, 9.3-16.5) PCIs per 100,000 beneficiaries, and one additional orthopedic surgeon was associated with an increase of 20.6 (CI, 16.9-24.4) KAs per 100,000 beneficiaries. A $10,000 increase in gift payments from stent manufacturers was associated with an increase of 26.0 (CI, 5.1-46.9) PCIs per 100,000 beneficiaries, while total and service payments were not associated with greater regional PCI utilization. A $10,000 increase in total payments from knee prosthetic manufacturers was associated with an increase of 2.9 (CI, 1.4-4.5) KAs per 100,000 beneficiaries, while a similar increase in gift and service payments was associated with an increase of 14.5 (CI, 5.0-24.1) and 3.4 (CI, 1.6-5.2) KAs, respectively.
Among Medicare FFS beneficiaries, regional supply of physicians and receipt of industry payments were associated with greater use of PCIs and KAs. Relationships between payments and procedural utilization were more consistent for KAs, a largely elective procedure, compared to PCIs, which may be elective or emergent.
cardiology; conflict of interest; joint arthroplasty; marketing payments; medical devices; orthopedics; percutaneous coronary intervention; procedure utilization.