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Coronary stents and the uptake of new medical devices in the German system of inpatient reimbursement.

Henschke C, Bäumler M, Gaskins M, Busse R
Journal of Interventional Cardiology 23(6): 546-553 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-8183.2010.00592.x; efirst published 23.8.10)





Objectives: This study aims to analyze mechanisms for facilitating the uptake of new medical devices in the German system of hospital reimbursement, focusing on the example of coronary stents, including (1) trends in their coding, (2) associated diagnosis-related group (DRG) payments, (3) their integration in the German DRG (G-DRG) system, and (4) their diffusion within the inpatient sector.
Methods: Published and gray literature provide the basis for analyzing the system of hospital reimbursement. Data on coronary stents were obtained from various regulatory and government bodies and examined in a longitudinal fashion.
Although German Procedure Classification (Operationen- und Prozedurenschlüssel; OPS) codes were created for a range of stent technologies between 2004 and 2009, the regular system of G-DRG reimbursement does not distinguish between different stents by means of unique DRGs. Instead, supplementary payments or extrabudgetary payments are used to ensure that newer technologies are reimbursed adequately. The limitations of extrabudgetary payments restrict the use of some devices to a small proportion of patients. Data on the diffusion of different stents show that factors other than the reimbursement regime likely also play a role in the frequency with which certain technologies are used. Bare metal stents currently account for most stent implantation procedures in Germany, followed by drug-eluting stents.
The current system of G-DRG reimbursement and of extrabudgetary payments ensures that even the most recently developed technologies can be used in the German inpatient sector. Nevertheless, certain technologies may not be reaching the broad patient population. (J Interven Cardiol 2010;**:1-8)

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