Unwarranted geographic variation in spending has received intense scrutiny in the United States. However, few studies have compared variation in spending and surgical outcomes between the United States healthcare system and those of other nations. In this study, we compare the geographic variation in postsurgical outcomes and cost between the United States and Japan.This retrospective cohort study uses Medicare Part A data from the United States (2010-2011) and similar inpatient data from Japan (2012). Patients 65 years or older undergoing 1 of 5 surgeries (coronary artery bypass graft, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, colectomy, pancreatectomy, or gastrectomy) were selected in the United States and Japan.Reliability- and case-mix-adjusted coefficient of variation (COV) values were calculated using hierarchical modeling and empirical Bayes techniques for the following 5 outcomes: postoperative mortality, the development of a complication, death after complication (failure to rescue), length of stay, and the cost of the hospitalization. Sensitivity analyses were also performed by calculating patient demographic-and case-mix-adjusted COV values for each outcome using weighted age- and sex-standardized values.The variability of the postsurgical outcomes was uniformly lower in the United States compared with Japan. Cost variation was consistently higher in the United States for all surgeries.Although the US healthcare system may be more inefficient regarding costs, the presence of higher geographic variation in postoperative care in Japan, relative to the United States, suggests that the observed geographic variation in the United States-both for health expenditures and outcomes-is not a unique manifestation of its structural shortcomings.
View details for Web of Science ID 000384740300009
View details for PubMedID 27662222