Quality indicators are used to benchmark and subsequently improve quality of healthcare. However, defining good quality indicators and applying them to high-volume care such as skin cancer is not always feasible.
To determine whether claims data could be used to benchmark high-volume skin cancer care and to assess clinical practice variation.
All skin cancer care-related claims in dermatology in 2016 were extracted from a nationwide claims database (Vektis) in the Netherlands.
For over 220,000 patients, a skin cancer diagnosis-related group was reimbursed in 124 healthcare centres. Conventional excision reflected 75% of treatments for skin cancer but showed large variation between practices. Large practice variation was also found for 5-fluorouracil and imiquimod creams. The practice variation of Mohs micrographic surgery and photodynamic therapy was low under the 75th percentile, but outliers at the 100th percentile were detected, which indicates that few centres performed these therapies far more often than average. On average, patients received 1.8 follow-up visits in 2016.
Claims data demonstrated large practice variation in treatments and follow-up visits of skin cancer and may be a valid and feasible data set to extract quality indicators. The next step is to investigate whether detected practice variation is unwarranted and if a reduction improves quality and efficiency of care.