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Linking the US Transplant Registry to Administrative Claims Data: Expanding the Potential of Transplant Research

Gilmore, Amanda S. MPH*; Helderman, J Harold MD; Ricci, Jean-Francois PhD; Ryskina, Kira L. BA*; Feng, Sandy MD, PhD§; Kang, Ning MS*; Legorreta, Antonio P. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3180326121
Original Article

Objective: In the United States, data on transplanted and waitlisted patients collected by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) have been widely used in transplantation research. Administrative claims data, collected by health plans for reimbursement purposes, are also commonly used in health-services research. This study linked OPTN and private payer claims data to assess the relationship between data elements common to both sources.

Methods: All transplanted or waitlisted patients in the registry were considered for inclusion. A multistep match algorithm was employed to link OPTN and payer data from years 1995 to 2004. Variables common to both datasets that contained relevant information for similar time periods were compared.

Results: A total of 21,419 solid organ transplant recipients and 8808 waitlist patients were included in the final linked database. Organ type and demographic variable distributions in the linked dataset were similar to the overall OPTN database. Using claims as the reference group, sensitivity and specificity values were on average 0.72 and 0.69, respectively, and were highest for the indicators of immunosuppression use at discharge and follow-up.

Conclusion: This comparison of payer data with information reported by transplant centers to the OPTN provides important insight into the value of both data sources. Using administrative claims to augment the registry data with utilization and cost information will be useful for evaluation of both economic and clinical endpoints in solid organ transplantation.

From the *Health Benchmarks, Inc., Woodland Hills, California; the †Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee; the ‡Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland; the §University of California, San Francisco; and the ¶University of California, Los Angeles.

Supported by a grant from Novartis Pharma AG.

Reprints: Antonio Legorreta, MD, MPH, UCLA School of Public Health Department of Health Services, 21650 Oxnard Street Suite 550 Woodland Hills, CA 91367. E-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.