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3M™ Potentially Preventable Admissions (PPA)

Room with empty hospital beds
High rates of potentially preventable hospital admissions could signal poor care in the ambulatory system.

Identify potentially preventable admissions, a population-based quality of care outcome measure, using powerful clinical grouping logic

3M PPA find opportunities for better coordination of ambulatory care services.

The 3M™ Potentially Preventable Admissions (PPA) methodology identifies hospital admissions that could have potentially been preventable with better coordinated care. The use of quality outcome measures can expand upon currently available process measures and can speed the transformation to an efficient and effective outcomes-based health care delivery system. 3M PPAs are more comprehensive in large part because of advances in our understanding of the role coordinated care can play in avoiding admissions together with the understanding that the preventability of these events should be adjusted for the overall burden of illness of the individual patient.

Empty wheelchair in a hospital hallway
3M PPAs can be flare-ups of chronic conditions which with adequate monitoring and follow-up could have been avoided.

Why choose the 3M PPAs

  • Empty waiting room chairs
    Addressing an urgent need in our health care system

    Every year, millions of patients are admitted to hospitals for chronic disease exacerbations that were potentially preventable with better management in the community.  Reducing such potentially unnecessary admissions both saves money and improves patient outcomes.

    The 3M™ Potentially Preventable Admissions (PPA) methodology is a clinical classification system that identifies avoidable initial hospital admissions. 3M PPA uses the industry-standard 3M™ All Patient Refined DRG (APR DRG) Classification System to identify the preventable admission and 3M™ Clinical Risk Grouping (CRG) Software to risk-adjust the comparison data.

  • People discussing risk adjustment
    Performing careful, clinically defined risk adjustment

    Accurate and fair 3M PPA identification requires careful, clinically defined risk adjustment. The widely accepted 3M™ Clinical Risk Grouping (CRG) Software measures baseline population health status in comparing actual versus expected 3M PPA rates.

  • Physician looking at a tablet
    Applying a categorical measurement to generate actionable information

    3M PPA is one of the five 3M™ Potentially Preventable Event methodologies that generate specific results for clinicians and health care managers to use in improving care and reducing cost.

  • Nursing care
    Specific logic for integrated health delivery systems and residential nursing care facilities

    Organizations that accept responsibility for the care of identified populations can be held to higher standards. 3M PPA methodology identifies approximately 41 potentially preventable reasons for admission in the general population, 100 reasons in populations managed by integrated health delivery systems, and 126 reasons in populations from residential nursing care facilities.

All about 3M PPA

The 3M PPA methodology generates actionable insights that can help lower costs and improve outcomes.

  • Definition

    The 3M PPA methodology identifies hospital admissions that could potentially have been dealt with in the outpatient setting. These hospital admissions may result from hospital and/or ambulatory care inefficiency, lack of adequate access to outpatient care, or inadequate coordination of ambulatory care services.

    In many cases, 3M PPA can uncover flare-ups of chronic conditions (e.g., asthma), which could have been avoided through adequate monitoring and appropriate follow-up procedures such as medication management. The occurrence of high PPA rates within a region or health care system may represent a failure of the ambulatory care system.

  • 3M PPA can be useful to payers, employers, government agencies, researchers, integrated health delivery systems (e.g., managed care organizations and accountable care organizations), and residential nursing care facilities (e.g., nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, and residential treatment centers).

    For example, employers or government insurance programs can use 3M PPA to measure the performance of contracted, integrated health delivery systems or residential nursing care facilities. Those integrated health delivery systems and residential nursing care facilities themselves can also use the 3M PPA methodology to enhance their own performance by improving outcomes from year to year.

  • Here are a few examples of how the 3M PPA methodology has benefited customers.

    • Improving quality and managing managed care. Through concerted effort, the Texas Medicaid STAR managed care program reduced the 3M PPA rate by 35 percent, going from 14 PPAs per 100 stays in 2012 to 9 nine PPAs per 100 stays in 2017. That reduction translated into 7,236 fewer inpatient stays in 2017. In addition, this program reports risk-adjusted 3M PPA rates for Medicaid-managed care organizations, offering detailed drill-down capability and downloadable data files. Learn more.
    • Quantifying opportunities for improvement. In a 2014 report to Congress on the Medicare program, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) used 3M PPA to calculate that 28 percent of inpatient stays were defined as potentially preventable, suggesting that “ample opportunities” existed for improvement in the ambulatory care provided to Medicare beneficiaries.
    • Understanding population health. In a series of 2018 reports, the Florida Medicaid program used 3M methodologies (including 3M PPA) to publish risk-adjusted PPA rates for every region of the state. Learn more (PDF, 3.44 MB) .
    • Managing managed care. The Texas Medicaid program reports risk-adjusted 3M PPA rates for Medicaid-managed care organizations along with detailed drill-down capability and downloadable data files. Learn more.
    • Measuring outcomes in long-term care. In analyzing data for more than 400,000 Medicare nursing facility residents, 3M researchers found considerable variation both within and across states in risk-adjusted 3M PPA rates. One implication: Medicare’s method of assigning nursing facility SNF quality scores should say more about outcomes. Learn more.
  • While 3M PPA classification logic is the same for every client, an organization can use different versions of the methodology and apply their own reimbursement calculation tables. 3M always recommends that clients use the latest version of the software, but each organization can decide how to apply it (for research, public reporting, reimbursement, or a combination). Note: At present, 3M does not offer software that replicates a specific organization’s PPA analysis.
  • 3M PPA is integrated with other 3M patient classification methodologies.

  • 3M PPA are available in the following 3M products:

  • 3M experts are available to advise health plans, government agencies and other interested parties on how to obtain maximum value from the 3M PPA. For example, 3M consultants can help you measure the incidence of potentially preventable admissions, compare those findings with appropriate benchmarks, and help design improvement programs. 3M consultants can also help payers and other organizations measure PPAs across health plans and other patient populations, design pay-for-outcomes incentive methods and facilitate shared learning collaboratives.
  • The 3M PPA methodology can identify PPAs using standard, inpatient claims data derived from institutional and professional claims (i.e., the UB-04 and CMS-1500 paper forms and their corresponding X12N 837 electronic formats). Consistent, unique patient identifiers are essential. Comparing 3M PPA rates across different populations requires the 3M™ Clinical Risk Grouping (CRG) Software to perform risk adjustment by individual health status. Thus, 3M PPA analysis typically involves creation of a static data set comprising at least one full year of data. If available, pharmacy data in NCPDP format is optional but recommended. Note: 3M CRG and 3M PPA methodologies do not need to be built into the claim processing systems.
  • Every preventable hospital admission represents both a significant cost to the health care system and evidence of an ambulatory care system failure. The challenge has been to define “preventable” with an understanding that the preventability of these admissions depends on the overall burden of illness of the individual patient. In 2012, 3M met this challenge by releasing the 3M™ Potentially Preventable Admission methodology as one of the three Population-focused Preventables. Learn more. (The others are Potentially Preventable Emergency Department Visits and Potentially Preventable Services.)

    As with all 3M PPE methodologies, three core concepts are essential. First, we recognize that not all admissions are potentially preventable. Second, what matters is not the individual admission, but rather the overall rate of potentially preventable admissions. Instead of approaching quality with the mindset of “This should never happen,” we use a more realistic and meaningful approach of “This has happened too often.” Third, any comparisons across populations of patients must be risk-adjusted. In practice, that means that the actual 3M PPA experience of a population is compared with the experience that would be expected for a population with the same case mix.

    The 3M PPA logic is divided into two phases.

    1. Identify patients with potentially preventable initial admissions

    All inpatient stays are assigned to a 3M™ All Patient Refined Diagnosis Related Group (APR DRG). For the general population, approximately 41 base 3M APR DRGs are considered potentially preventable. For some 3M APR DRGs, the 3M PPA logic also takes into account individual diagnoses and patient age. In a Minnesota all-payer analysis, for example, the most common 3M PPAs were pneumonia, heart failure and COPD. [] When an integrated health delivery system (such as a managed care organization or accountable care organization) accepts responsibility for a specific population, then additional 3M APR DRGs are considered potentially preventable, for a total of approximately 100. Examples of additional 3M APR DRGs include bipolar disorder, sickle cell anemia crisis and inflammatory bowel disease. When a population is under the care of a residential nursing care facility (such as a nursing facility, intermediate care facility or residential treatment center), additional 3M APR DRGs are considered potentially preventable, for a total of approximately 126. For example, 3M analysis showed that 3M APR DRG 720, Septicemia and Disseminated Infections, was the most common 3M PPA in a population of more than 400,000 Medicare nursing facility patients. []

    2. Determine patient risk adjustment

    In any rate-based comparison of outcomes, risk adjustment is essential to a fair comparison across populations. Although 3M PPAs are generally preventable, they will never be totally eliminated, even with optimal care. As a result, there will be a residual rate of 3M PPAs in even the best-performing systems. More importantly, the rate at which 3M PPAs occur depends on the burden of illness of the population which is measured using 3M™ Clinical Risk Grouping (CRG) Software. For example, 3M CRG 70602 is a person with congestive heart failure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, severity 2. Hospital admissions for this person would be more likely to be preventable than for a person in severity 5 (i.e., 3M CRG 70605).

    Further information on the 3M PPA logic is available in the Population-focused Preventables Methodology Overview. Detailed information is available to licensees in the online PFP definitions manual.

    The 3M PPA clinical logic is maintained by a team of 3M clinicians, data analysts, nosologists, programmers and economists. The methodology is updated annually to reflect changes in the standard diagnosis and procedure code sets as well as 3M enhancements to the clinical logic.

Learn more about 3M PPA

Publicly available documentation, articles and reports

Please note that documents not published by 3M do not necessarily reflect 3M recommendations and have not been approved by 3M. These documents are listed here for the information of readers interested in the various ways that 3M patient classification methodologies have been applied. Also note that listing these references does not imply endorsement of 3M methodologies by individual authors, other organizations or government agencies.

Some articles and reports are available from the publishers at no charge, while others require a fee.

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