Methods to estimate and analyze medical care resource use: An example from liver transplantation

Patricia P. Katz, Jonathan A. Showstack, John R. Lake, Robert S. Brown, R. Adams Dudley, M. Esther Colwell, Russell H. Wiesner, Rowen K. Zetterman, James Everhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This paper describes a method to construct a standardized health care resource use database. Billing and clinical data were analyzed for 916 patients who received liver transplantations at three medical centers over a 4-year period. Data were checked for completeness by assessing whether each patient's bill included charges covering specified dates and for specific services, and for accuracy by comparing a sample of bills to medical records. Detailed services were matched to a standardized service list from one of the centers, and a single price list was applied. For certain services, clinical data were used to estimate service use or, if a match was not possible, adjusted charges for the services were used. Twenty-three patients were eliminated from the database because of incomplete resource use data. There was very good correspondence between bills and medical records, except for blood products. Direct matches to the standardized service list accounted for 69.3% of services overall; 9.4% of services could not be matched to the standardized service list and were thus adjusted for center and/or time period. Clinical data were used to estimate resource use for blood products, operating room time, and medications; these estimations accounted for 21.3% of services overall. A database can be constructed that allows comparison of standardized resource use and avoids biases due to accounting, geographic, or temporal factors. Clinical data are essential for the creation of such a database. The methods described are particularly useful in studies of the cost-effectiveness of medical technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-379
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Billing Data
  • Health Care Costs
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Methods
  • Resource Use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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