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Am J Manag Care. 2016 May 1;22(5):e161-8.

Potential of risk-based population guidelines to reduce cardiovascular risk in a large integrated health system.

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Department of Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, 100 S Los Robles, Pasadena, CA 91101. E-mail address:



We evaluated an alternative way to implement guidelines using an automated risk calculator and risk-based decision tool to calculate patients' risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and recommend therapies. We compared such an approach with traditional guidelines.


A retrospective cohort study of 1,506,109 Kaiser Permanente Southern California members 35 years or older.


We estimated 3-year risks of fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction and stroke using an independently developed risk calculator, then graphically compared risks with observed outcomes. We used the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve to assess discrimination, and the Hosmer-Lemeshow statistic to test fit. We compared the characteristics and outcomes of populations identified for medication therapy by the risk-based decision tool and traditional guidelines using bivariate statistics.


A risk score was obtained in 72% (1,082,158) of members. The risk calculator was fairly good in discrimination: the area under the curve was 0.774 (95% CI, 0.770-0.779) for myocardial infarction and 0.805 (95% CI, 0.801-0.808) for stroke. Predictiveness and fit was good based on graphical analysis and Hosmer-Lemeshow P < .0001. The risk-based decision tool identified high-risk patients for treatment who were not identified by traditional guidelines (3.80% of all those identified for statins, 3.04% for antihypertensives), as well as low-risk patients who were identified by guidelines (3.80% for statins, 2.51% for antihypertensives).


The risk calculator provided risk estimates in most patients and demonstrated fairly good discrimination and predictiveness. The risk-based decision tool identified high-risk patients for treatment not identified by traditional guidelines, as well as low-risk patients for whom treatment may be unnecessary.

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