Currently Viewing:
The American Journal of Managed Care August 2018
Impact of a Medical Home Model on Costs and Utilization Among Comorbid HIV-Positive Medicaid Patients
Paul Crits-Christoph, PhD; Robert Gallop, PhD; Elizabeth Noll, PhD; Aileen Rothbard, ScD; Caroline K. Diehl, BS; Mary Beth Connolly Gibbons, PhD; Robert Gross, MD, MSCE; and Karin V. Rhodes, MD, MS
Choosing Wisely Clinical Decision Support Adherence and Associated Inpatient Outcomes
Andrew M. Heekin, PhD; John Kontor, MD; Harry C. Sax, MD; Michelle S. Keller, MPH; Anne Wellington, BA; and Scott Weingarten, MD
Precision Medicine and Sharing Medical Data in Real Time: Opportunities and Barriers
Y. Tony Yang, ScD, and Brian Chen, PhD, JD
Levers to Reduce Use of Unnecessary Services: Creating Needed Headroom to Enhance Spending on Evidence-Based Care
Michael Budros, MPH, MPP, and A. Mark Fendrick, MD
From the Editorial Board: Michael E. Chernew, PhD
Michael E. Chernew, PhD
Optimizing Number and Timing of Appointment Reminders: A Randomized Trial
John F. Steiner, MD, MPH; Michael R. Shainline, MS, MBA; Jennifer Z. Dahlgren, MS; Alan Kroll, MSPT, MBA; and Stan Xu, PhD
Impact of After-Hours Telemedicine on Hospitalizations in a Skilled Nursing Facility
David Chess, MD; John J. Whitman, MBA; Diane Croll, DNP; and Richard Stefanacci, DO
Baseline and Postfusion Opioid Burden for Patients With Low Back Pain
Kevin L. Ong, PhD; Kirsten E. Stoner, PhD; B. Min Yun, PhD; Edmund Lau, MS; and Avram A. Edidin, PhD
Patient and Physician Predictors of Hyperlipidemia Screening and Statin Prescription
Sneha Kannan, MD; David A. Asch, MD, MBA; Gregory W. Kurtzman, BA; Steve Honeywell Jr, BS; Susan C. Day, MD, MPH; and Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS
Currently Reading
Evaluating HCV Screening, Linkage to Care, and Treatment Across Insurers
Karen Mulligan, PhD; Jeffrey Sullivan, MS; Lara Yoon, MPH; Jacki Chou, MPP, MPL; and Karen Van Nuys, PhD
Medicare Advantage Enrollees’ Use of Nursing Homes: Trends and Nursing Home Characteristics
Hye-Young Jung, PhD; Qijuan Li, PhD; Momotazur Rahman, PhD; and Vincent Mor, PhD

Evaluating HCV Screening, Linkage to Care, and Treatment Across Insurers

Karen Mulligan, PhD; Jeffrey Sullivan, MS; Lara Yoon, MPH; Jacki Chou, MPP, MPL; and Karen Van Nuys, PhD
An optimized hepatitis C virus screening and linkage-to-care process reduces the number of patients lost to follow-up and improves linkage to care for Medicare, Medicaid, and commercially insured patients.

Objectives: We examined how a population susceptible to hepatitis C virus (HCV) moves through the HCV screening and linkage-to-care (SLTC) continuum across insurance providers (Medicare, Medicaid, commercial) and identified opportunities for increasing the number of patients who complete the SLTC process and receive treatment.

Study Design: Discrete-time Markov model.

Methods: A cohort of 10,000 HCV-susceptible patients was simulated through the HCV SLTC process using a Markov model with parameters from published literature. Three scenarios were explored: baseline, in which each step required a separate visit and all infected saw a specialist; reflex, which reflexed antibody and RNA testing; and consolidated, which reflexed antibody, RNA, fibrosis staging, and genotype testing into 1 step, with an optional specialist visit. For each scenario, we estimated the number of patients lost at each stage, yield, and cost.

Results: Streamlining the SLTC process by reducing the number of required visits results in more patients completing the process and receiving treatment. Among antibody-positive patients, 76% of those with Medicaid and 71% of those with Medicare and commercial insurance are lost to follow-up in baseline. In reflex and consolidated, these proportions fall to 26% and 27% and 4% and 5%, respectively. The cost to identify and link 1 additional infected patient to care ranges from $1586 to $2546 in baseline and $212 to $548 in consolidated. Total cost, inclusive of treatment, ranges from $1.0 million to $3.1 million in baseline and increases to $3.8 million to $15.1 million in reflex and $5.3 million to $21.0 million in consolidated.

Conclusions: Reducing steps in the HCV SLTC process increases the number of patients who learn their HCV status, receive appropriate care, and initiate treatment.

Am J Manag Care. 2018;24(8):e257-e264
Takeaway Points

This study evaluated the impact of streamlining the hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening and linkage-to-care (SLTC) process on costs, yield, and patients lost to follow-up by integrating reflex testing for early steps in the process. The findings are relevant for clinicians and managed care decision makers involved in HCV SLTC programs.
  • Reducing the number of required visits during the SLTC process decreases the number of patients lost to follow-up by 62% to 95%.
  • Streamlining the HCV SLTC process results in more patients who are aware of their HCV status, receive appropriate care, and are ultimately treated.
Up to 3.5 million people in the United States are infected with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), and half are unaware of their infection status.1,2 Current guidelines recommend 1-time HCV screening for individuals born between 1945 and 1965 and individuals with increased risk of infection, but initial screening represents only the first stage in the screening and linkage-to-care (SLTC) process.3 To detect chronic infection, patients with a positive HCV antibody test must have confirmatory RNA testing, and for those with chronic HCV, additional diagnostics, including genotype testing and fibrosis staging, are recommended before treatment.

Reflex testing, in which RNA is tested immediately following a reactive antibody test using the same blood draw, represents a simplified SLTC process and allows patients to definitively know their HCV status following 1 visit.4 Without reflex testing, an estimated 33% to 47% of patients who receive a positive antibody test do not receive confirmatory RNA testing, highlighting the importance of a streamlined process for patient awareness.5-7

Although fewer visits in the SLTC process may result in fewer patients lost to follow-up, other barriers may result in patients dropping out of the process prior to initiating treatment. For example, HCV guidelines still recommend subspecialty consultation for patients with advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis.3 The need for specialty care may disproportionately impact patients with less access to care, such as those who use community health centers.8,9 Even if patients successfully complete all screening and diagnostic testing and receive a prescription for treatment, they still may not be treated if their payer policy includes coverage restrictions, such as prior authorization (PA).10

Given that only 16% of chronically infected patients are eventually prescribed treatment,11 it is important to identify steps in the SLTC process where patient retention is lowest and improve retention at those points. To examine this issue, we developed a model that simulates the HCV SLTC process from antibody testing through treatment initiation. The minimum number of visits required prior to a treatment decision varied from 2 to 4, and the resulting costs, yield, and patients lost to follow-up were estimated depending on patients’ insurance provider (Medicaid, Medicare, or commercial).


Baseline Model Framework

A discrete-time Markov model was developed to simulate the HCV SLTC process and was stratified by insurance type: Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial. The model follows 10,000 patients from antibody screening through treatment initiation until 1 of 5 conditions is met: (1) they are found not to have chronic HCV, (2) a “no treatment recommended” decision is made, (3) PA is denied, (4) treatment is initiated, or (5) they drop out before meeting any of the prior conditions and are lost to follow-up (henceforth, “lost”).

The state transition model (Figure 1) was adapted from CDC guidance.4 Patients enter the model and receive an antibody test. Those who are antibody-negative are not infected with HCV, require no additional testing, and have completed the SLTC process. Patients who are antibody-positive (Ab+) continue to confirmatory RNA testing or are lost.

RNA testing assesses the presence of chronic infection. Patients who are RNA-negative have no active infection and have completed the screening process. Patients who test RNA-positive and have been infected longer than 6 months are chronically infected and continue to a specialist for further testing or are lost.

Patients with chronic HCV receive genotype testing and noninvasive liver fibrosis staging at a specialist visit; results determine their treatment regimen and duration. Biopsies account for fewer than 10% of fibrosis staging tests12 and were excluded from our model. At this stage, patients either receive a “no treatment recommended” decision, are prescribed treatment, or are lost. Patients who receive a decision of no treatment recommended have completed the screening process.

If treatment is recommended, patients transition through additional stages before receiving therapy. We do not explicitly model additional tests that may follow the treatment recommendation, such as NS5A resistance testing or renal function testing; however, such tests could be conducted during the specialist visit, which avoids additional visits during the SLTC process. At least 29 states require some duration of sobriety for Medicaid patients.13 Therefore, Medicaid enrollees in our model must meet sobriety requirements and obtain PA before initiating treatment. Commercial and Medicare enrollees must obtain PA.

Model parameters were drawn from the published literature and stratified by insurance type where possible. Key parameters for the model include transition probabilities, average timing values, and per visit costs. HCV prevalence plays a key role in model outcomes because it determines the number of Ab+ patients who progress beyond the initial state. Of our 3 insurance strata, Medicaid has the highest prevalence of Ab+ patients (16%), followed by Medicare (9%) and commercial (5%).14,15 The proportion of Ab+ patients with chronic HCV is the same for all strata (79.7%).16 The eAppendix (available at provides a full description of the model assumptions and parameters.

Copyright AJMC 2006-2020 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Welcome the the new and improved, the premier managed market network. Tell us about yourself so that we can serve you better.
Sign Up