There is an increasing need for the development of approaches to measure quality, costs, and resource utilization patterns among allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) patients. Administrative claims data provide an opportunity to examine service utilization and costs, particularly from the payer's perspective. However, because administrative claims data are primarily designed for reimbursement purposes, challenges arise when using it for research. We use a case study with data derived from the 2007 to 2011 Truven Health MarketScan Research database to discuss opportunities and challenges for the use of administrative claims data to examine the costs and service utilization of allogeneic HCT and chemotherapy alone for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Starting with a cohort of 29,915 potentially eligible patients with a diagnosis of AML, we were able to identify 211 patients treated with HCT and 774 treated with chemotherapy alone where we were sufficiently confident of the diagnosis and treatment path to allow analysis. Administrative claims data provide an avenue to meet the need for health care costs, resource utilization, and outcome information. However, when using these data, a balance between clinical knowledge and applied methods is critical to identifying a valid study cohort and accurate measures of costs and resource utilization.
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