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Comment & Response
November 21, 2017

Medical Device Identification in Claims Data

Author Affiliations
  • 1Health Information Technology, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, DC
  • 2Healthcare Programs, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2017;318(19):1936-1937. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.15146

To the Editor Drs Ibrahim and Dimick highlighted an important gap in the information available to evaluate the quality, safety, and value of medical implants, such as pacemakers and artificial joints.1

They emphasized that administrative data—derived from insurance claims submitted to health plans—lack information on the specific brand and model of implant used. If claims were to include such device-identifying information, researchers could then use claims data to study safety more comprehensively than through voluntary reports (which are often underreported2); evaluate the frequency of device failures; and assess the total costs of care associated with different products. Researchers already use claims data in this way to monitor the safety of prescription drugs. The lack of device information in claims inhibits similar uses for medical implants.3