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J Med Econ. 2010;13(4):618-25. doi: 10.3111/13696998.2010.523670. Epub 2010 Oct 1.

Medical chart validation of an algorithm for identifying multiple sclerosis relapse in healthcare claims.

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i3 Innovus, Eden Prairie, MN, USA.



Relapse is a common measure of disease activity in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). The objective of this study was to test the content validity of an operational algorithm for detecting relapse in claims data.


A claims-based relapse detection algorithm was tested by comparing its detection rate over a 1-year period with relapses identified based on medical chart review. According to the algorithm, MS patients in a US healthcare claims database who had either (1) a primary claim for MS during hospitalization or (2) a corticosteroid claim following a MS-related outpatient visit were designated as having a relapse. Patient charts were examined for explicit indication of relapse or care suggestive of relapse. Positive and negative predictive values were calculated.


Medical charts were reviewed for 300 MS patients, half of whom had a relapse according to the algorithm. The claims-based criteria correctly classified 67.3% of patients with relapses (positive predictive value) and 70.0% of patients without relapses (negative predictive value; kappa 0.373: p < 0.001). Alternative algorithms did not improve on the predictive value of the operational algorithm. Limitations of the algorithm include lack of differentiation between relapsing-remitting MS and other types, and that it does not incorporate measures of function and disability.


The claims-based algorithm appeared to successfully detect moderate-to-severe MS relapse. This validated definition can be applied to future claims-based MS studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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