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Journal Description

JMIR Medical Informatics (JMI, ISSN 2291-9694; Impact Factor: 3.188) (Editor-in-chief: Christian Lovis MD MPH FACMI) is a PubMed/SCIE-indexed, top-rated, tier A journal that focuses on clinical informatics, big data in health and health care, decision support for health professionals, electronic health records, ehealth infrastructures and implementation.

Published by JMIR Publications, JMIR Medical Informatics has a focus on applied, translational research, with a broad readership including clinicians, CIOs, engineers, industry and health informatics professionals.

JMIR Medical Informatics adheres to rigorous quality standards, involving a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs (ready for deposit in PubMed Central/PubMed).


Recent Articles:

  • LoraWAN device. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-ND).

    A Communication Infrastructure for the Health and Social Care Internet of Things: Proof-of-Concept Study


    Background: Increasing life expectancy and reducing birth rates indicate that the world population is becoming older, with many challenges related to quality of life for old and fragile people, as well as their informal caregivers. In the last few years, novel information and communication technology techniques generally known as the Internet of Things (IoT) have been developed, and they are centered around the provision of computation and communication capabilities to objects. The IoT may provide older people with devices that enable their functional independence in daily life by either extending their own capacity or facilitating the efforts of their caregivers. LoRa is a proprietary wireless transmission protocol optimized for long-range, low-power, low–data-rate applications. LoRaWAN is an open stack built upon LoRa. Objective: This paper describes an infrastructure designed and experimentally developed to support IoT deployment in a health care setup, and the management of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has been chosen for a proof-of-concept study. The peculiarity of the proposed approach is that it is based on the LoRaWAN protocol stack, which exploits unlicensed frequencies and allows for the use of very low-power radio devices, making it a rational choice for IoT communication. Methods: A complete LoRaWAN-based infrastructure was designed, with features partly decided in agreement with caregivers, including outdoor patient tracking to control wandering; fall recognition; and capability of collecting data for further clinical studies. Further features suggested by caregivers were night motion surveillance and indoor tracking for large residential structures. Implementation involved a prototype node with tracking and fall recognition capabilities, a middle layer based on an existing network server, and a Web application for overall management of patients and caregivers. Tests were performed to investigate indoor and outdoor capabilities in a real-world setting and study the applicability of LoRaWAN in health and social care scenarios. Results: Three experiments were carried out. One aimed to test the technical functionality of the infrastructure, another assessed indoor features, and the last assessed outdoor features. The only critical issue was fall recognition, because a slip was not always easy to recognize. Conclusions: The project allowed the identification of some advantages and restrictions of the LoRaWAN technology when applied to the health and social care sectors. Free installation allows the development of services that reach ranges comparable to those available with cellular telephony, but without running costs like telephony fees. However, there are technological limitations, which restrict the scenarios in which LoRaWAN is applicable, although there is room for many applications. We believe that setting up low-weight infrastructure and carefully determining whether applications can be concretely implemented within LoRaWAN limits might help in optimizing community care activities while not adding much burden and cost in information technology management.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: jannoon028; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Analyzing Medical Research Results Based on Synthetic Data and Their Relation to Real Data Results: Systematic Comparison From Five Observational Studies


    Background: Privacy restrictions limit access to protected patient-derived health information for research purposes. Consequently, data anonymization is required to allow researchers data access for initial analysis before granting institutional review board approval. A system installed and activated at our institution enables synthetic data generation that mimics data from real electronic medical records, wherein only fictitious patients are listed. Objective: This paper aimed to validate the results obtained when analyzing synthetic structured data for medical research. A comprehensive validation process concerning meaningful clinical questions and various types of data was conducted to assess the accuracy and precision of statistical estimates derived from synthetic patient data. Methods: A cross-hospital project was conducted to validate results obtained from synthetic data produced for five contemporary studies on various topics. For each study, results derived from synthetic data were compared with those based on real data. In addition, repeatedly generated synthetic datasets were used to estimate the bias and stability of results obtained from synthetic data. Results: This study demonstrated that results derived from synthetic data were predictive of results from real data. When the number of patients was large relative to the number of variables used, highly accurate and strongly consistent results were observed between synthetic and real data. For studies based on smaller populations that accounted for confounders and modifiers by multivariate models, predictions were of moderate accuracy, yet clear trends were correctly observed. Conclusions: The use of synthetic structured data provides a close estimate to real data results and is thus a powerful tool in shaping research hypotheses and accessing estimated analyses, without risking patient privacy. Synthetic data enable broad access to data (eg, for out-of-organization researchers), and rapid, safe, and repeatable analysis of data in hospitals or other health organizations where patient privacy is a primary value.

  • Source:; Copyright: Elza Shimpf; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Explanatory Model of Dry Eye Disease Using Health and Nutrition Examinations: Machine Learning and Network-Based Factor Analysis From a National Survey


    Background: Dry eye disease (DED) is a complex disease of the ocular surface, and its associated factors are important for understanding and effectively treating DED. Objective: This study aimed to provide an integrative and personalized model of DED by making an explanatory model of DED using as many factors as possible from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) data. Methods: Using KNHANES data for 2012 (4391 sample cases), a point-based scoring system was created for ranking factors associated with DED and assessing patient-specific DED risk. First, decision trees and lasso were used to classify continuous factors and to select important factors, respectively. Next, a survey-weighted multiple logistic regression was trained using these factors, and points were assigned using the regression coefficients. Finally, network graphs of partial correlations between factors were utilized to study the interrelatedness of DED-associated factors. Results: The point-based model achieved an area under the curve of 0.70 (95% CI 0.61-0.78), and 13 of 78 factors considered were chosen. Important factors included sex (+9 points for women), corneal refractive surgery (+9 points), current depression (+7 points), cataract surgery (+7 points), stress (+6 points), age (54-66 years; +4 points), rhinitis (+4 points), lipid-lowering medication (+4 points), and intake of omega-3 (0.43%-0.65% kcal/day; −4 points). Among these, the age group 54 to 66 years had high centrality in the network, whereas omega-3 had low centrality. Conclusions: Integrative understanding of DED was possible using the machine learning–based model and network-based factor analysis. This method for finding important risk factors and identifying patient-specific risk could be applied to other multifactorial diseases.

  • Source: Creative Commons Search; Copyright: doctor4uuk; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Analysis of Massive Online Medical Consultation Service Data to Understand Physicians’ Economic Return: Observational Data Mining Study


    Background: Online health care consultation has become increasingly popular and is considered a potential solution to health care resource shortages and inefficient resource distribution. However, many online medical consultation platforms are struggling to attract and retain patients who are willing to pay, and health care providers on the platform have the additional challenge of standing out in a crowd of physicians who can provide comparable services. Objective: This study used machine learning (ML) approaches to mine massive service data to (1) identify the important features that are associated with patient payment, as opposed to free trial–only appointments; (2) explore the relative importance of these features; and (3) understand how these features interact, linearly or nonlinearly, in relation to payment. Methods: The dataset is from the largest China-based online medical consultation platform, which covers 1,582,564 consultation records between patient-physician pairs from 2009 to 2018. ML techniques (ie, hyperparameter tuning, model training, and validation) were applied with four classifiers—logistic regression, decision tree (DT), random forest, and gradient boost—to identify the most important features and their relative importance for predicting paid vs free-only appointments. Results: After applying the ML feature selection procedures, we identified 11 key features on the platform, which are potentially useful to predict payment. For the binary ML classification task (paid vs free services), the 11 features as a whole system achieved very good prediction performance across all four classifiers. DT analysis further identified five distinct subgroups of patients delineated by five top-ranked features: previous offline connection, total dialog, physician response rate, patient privacy concern, and social return. These subgroups interact with the physician differently, resulting in different payment outcomes. Conclusions: The results show that, compared with features related to physician reputation, service-related features, such as service delivery quality (eg, consultation dialog intensity and physician response rate), patient source (eg, online vs offline returning patients), and patient involvement (eg, provide social returns and reveal previous treatment), appear to contribute more to the patient’s payment decision. Promoting multiple timely responses in patient-provider interactions is essential to encourage payment.

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: NomeVisualizzato; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Detection of Postictal Generalized Electroencephalogram Suppression: Random Forest Approach


    Background: Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is second only to stroke in neurological events resulting in years of potential life lost. Postictal generalized electroencephalogram (EEG) suppression (PGES) is a period of suppressed brain activity often occurring after generalized tonic-clonic seizure, a most significant risk factor for SUDEP. Therefore, PGES has been considered as a potential biomarker for SUDEP risk. Automatic PGES detection tools can address the limitations of labor-intensive, and sometimes inconsistent, visual analysis. A successful approach to automatic PGES detection must overcome computational challenges involved in the detection of subtle amplitude changes in EEG recordings, which may contain physiological and acquisition artifacts. Objective: This study aimed to present a random forest approach for automatic PGES detection using multichannel human EEG recordings acquired in epilepsy monitoring units. Methods: We used a combination of temporal, frequency, wavelet, and interchannel correlation features derived from EEG signals to train a random forest classifier. We also constructed and applied confidence-based correction rules based on PGES state changes. Motivated by practical utility, we introduced a new, time distance–based evaluation method for assessing the performance of PGES detection algorithms. Results: The time distance–based evaluation showed that our approach achieved a 5-second tolerance-based positive prediction rate of 0.95 for artifact-free signals. For signals with different artifact levels, our prediction rates varied from 0.68 to 0.81. Conclusions: We introduced a feature-based, random forest approach for automatic PGES detection using multichannel EEG recordings. Our approach achieved increasingly better time distance–based performance with reduced signal artifact levels. Further study is needed for PGES detection algorithms to perform well irrespective of the levels of signal artifacts.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: Pressfoto; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Evaluating the Applications of Health Information Technologies in China During the Past 11 Years: Consecutive Survey Data Analysis


    Background: To achieve universal access to medical resources, China introduced its second health care reform in 2010, with health information technologies (HIT) as an important technical support point. Objective: This study is the first attempt to explore the unique contributions and characteristics of HIT development in Chinese hospitals from the three major aspects of hospital HIT—human resources, funding, and materials—in an all-around, multi-angled, and time-longitudinal manner, so as to serve as a reference for decision makers in China and the rest of the world when formulating HIT development strategies. Methods: A longitudinal research method is used to analyze the results of the CHIMA Annual Survey of Hospital Information System in China carried out by a Chinese national industrial association, CHIMA, from 2007 to 2018. The development characteristics of human resources, funding, and materials of HIT in China for the past 12 years are summarized. The Bass model is used to fit and predict the popularization trend of EMR in Chinese hospitals from 2007 to 2020. Results: From 2007 to 2018, the CHIMA Annual Survey interviewed 10,954 hospital CIOs across 32 administrative regions in Mainland China. Compared with 2007, as of 2018, in terms of human resources, the average full time equivalent (FTE) count in each hospital’s IT center is still lower than the average level of US counterparts in 2014 (9.66 FTEs vs. 34 FTEs). The proportion of CIOs with a master’s degree or above was 25.61%, showing an increase of 18.51%, among which those with computer-related backgrounds accounted for 64.75%, however, those with a medical informatics background only accounted for 3.67%. In terms of funding, the sampled hospitals’ annual HIT investment increased from ¥957,700 (US $136,874) to ¥6.376 million (US $911,261), and the average investment per bed increased from ¥4,600 (US $658) to ¥8,100 (US $1158). In terms of information system construction, as of 2018, the average EMR implementation rate of the sampled hospitals exceeded the average level of their US counterparts in 2015 and their German counterparts in 2017 (85.26% vs. 83.8% vs. 68.4%, respectively). The results of the Bass prediction model show that Chinese hospitals will likely reach an adoption rate of 91.4% by 2020 (R2=0.95). Conclusions: In more than 10 years, based on this top-down approach, China’s medical care industry has accepted government instructions and implemented the unified model planned by administrative intervention. With only about one-fifth of the required funding, and about one-fourth of the required human resources per hospital as compared to the US HITECH project, China’s EMR coverage in 2018 exceeded the average level of its US counterparts in 2015 and German counterparts in 2017. This experience deserves further study and analysis by other countries.

  • Source: Freepik; Copyright: Freepik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    The Impact of Electronic Health Records on the Duration of Patients’ Visits: Time and Motion Study


    Background: Despite the many benefits of electronic health records (EHRs), studies have reported that EHR implementation could create unintended changes in the workflow if not studied and designed properly. These changes may impact the time patients spend on the various steps of their visits, such as the time spent in the waiting area and with a physician. The amount of time patients spend in the waiting area before consultation is often a strong predictor of patient satisfaction, willingness to come back for a return visit, and overall experience. The majority of prior studies that examined the impact of EHR systems on time focused on single aspects of patient visits or user (physicians or nurses) activities. The impact of EHR use on patients’ time spent during the different aspects of the visit is rarely investigated. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the impact of EHR systems on the amount of time spent by patients on different tasks during their visit to primary health care (PHC) centers. Methods: A time and motion observational study was conducted at 4 PHC centers. The PHC centers were selected using stratified randomized sampling. Of the 4 PHC centers, 2 used an EHR system and 2 used a paper-based system. Each group had 1 center in a metropolitan area and another in a rural area. In addition, a longitudinal observation was conducted at one of the PHC centers after 1 year and again after 2 years of implementation. The analysis included descriptive statistics and group comparisons. Results: The results showed no significant difference in the amount of time spent by patients in the reception area (P=.26), in the waiting area (P=.57), consultation time (P=.08), and at the pharmacy (P=.28) between the EHR and paper based groups. However, there was a significant difference (P<.001) in the amount of time spent on all tasks between the PHC centers located in metropolitan and rural areas. The longitudinal observation also showed reduction in the registration time (from 5.5 [SD 3.5] min to 0.9 [SD 0.5] min), which could be attributed to the introduction of a Web-based booking system. Conclusions: The variation in the time patients spend at PHC centers is more likely to be attributed to the facility location than EHR use. The changes in the introduction of new tools and functions, however, such as the Web-based booking system, can impact the duration of patients’ visits.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: katemangostar; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Just Because (Most) Hospitals Are Publishing Charges Does Not Mean Prices Are More Transparent


    Background: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently mandated that all hospitals publish their charge description masters (CDMs) online, in a machine-readable format, by January 1, 2019. In addition, CMS recommended that CDM data be made available in a manner that was consumer friendly and accessible to patients. Objective: This study aimed to (1) examine all hospitals across the state of Pennsylvania to understand policy compliance and (2) use established metrics to measure accessibility and consumer friendliness of posted CDM data. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted to quantify hospital website compliance with the recent CMS policies requiring hospitals to publish their CDM. Data were collected from all Pennsylvania hospital websites. Consumer friendliness was assessed based on searchability, number of website clicks to data, and supplemental educational materials accompanying CDMs such as videos or text. Results: Most hospitals (189/234, 80.1%) were compliant, but significant variation in data presentation was observed. The mean number of website clicks to the CDM was 3.7 (SD 1.3; range: 1-8). A total of 23.1% of compliant hospitals provided no supplemental educational material with their CDM. Conclusions: Although disclosure of charges has improved, the data may not be sufficient to meaningfully influence patient decision making.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Evaluation of Privacy Risks of Patients’ Data in China: Case Study


    Background: Patient privacy is a ubiquitous problem around the world. Many existing studies have demonstrated the potential privacy risks associated with sharing of biomedical data. Owing to the increasing need for data sharing and analysis, health care data privacy is drawing more attention. However, to better protect biomedical data privacy, it is essential to assess the privacy risk in the first place. Objective: In China, there is no clear regulation for health systems to deidentify data. It is also not known whether a mechanism such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) safe harbor policy will achieve sufficient protection. This study aimed to conduct a pilot study using patient data from Chinese hospitals to understand and quantify the privacy risks of Chinese patients. Methods: We used g-distinct analysis to evaluate the reidentification risks with regard to the HIPAA safe harbor approach when applied to Chinese patients’ data. More specifically, we estimated the risks based on the HIPAA safe harbor and limited dataset policies by assuming an attacker has background knowledge of the patient from the public domain. Results: The experiments were conducted on 0.83 million patients (with data field of date of birth, gender, and surrogate ZIP codes generated based on home address) across 33 provincial-level administrative divisions in China. Under the Limited Dataset policy, 19.58% (163,262/833,235) of the population could be uniquely identifiable under the g-distinct metric (ie, 1-distinct). In contrast, the Safe Harbor policy is able to significantly reduce privacy risk, where only 0.072% (601/833,235) of individuals are uniquely identifiable, and the majority of the population is 3000 indistinguishable (ie the population is expected to share common attributes with 3000 or less people). Conclusions: Through the experiments based on real-world patient data, this work illustrates that the results of g-distinct analysis about Chinese patient privacy risk are similar to those from a previous US study, in which data from different organizations/regions might be vulnerable to different reidentification risks under different policies. This work provides reference to Chinese health care entities for estimating patients’ privacy risk during data sharing, which laid the foundation of privacy risk study about Chinese patients’ data in the future.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: teksomolika; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Intellectual Structure and Evolutionary Trends of Precision Medicine Research: Coword Analysis


    Background: Precision medicine (PM) is playing a more and more important role in clinical practice. In recent years, the scale of PM research has been growing rapidly. Many reviews have been published to facilitate a better understanding of the status of PM research. However, there is still a lack of research on the intellectual structure in terms of topics. Objective: This study aimed to identify the intellectual structure and evolutionary trends of PM research through the application of various social network analysis and visualization methods. Methods: The bibliographies of papers published between 2009 and 2018 were extracted from the Web of Science database. Based on the statistics of keywords in the papers, a coword network was generated and used to calculate network indicators of both the entire network and local networks. Communities were then detected to identify subdirections of PM research. Topological maps of networks, including networks between communities and within each community, were drawn to reveal the correlation structure. An evolutionary graph and a strategic graph were finally produced to reveal research venation and trends in discipline communities. Results: The results showed that PM research involves extensive themes and, overall, is not balanced. A minority of themes with a high frequency and network indicators, such as Biomarkers, Genomics, Cancer, Therapy, Genetics, Drug, Target Therapy, Pharmacogenomics, Pharmacogenetics, and Molecular, can be considered the core areas of PM research. However, there were five balanced theme directions with distinguished status and tendencies: Cancer, Biomarkers, Genomics, Drug, and Therapy. These were shown to be the main branches that were both focused and well developed. Therapy, though, was shown to be isolated and undeveloped. Conclusions: The hotspots, structures, evolutions, and development trends of PM research in the past ten years were revealed using social network analysis and visualization. In general, PM research is unbalanced, but its subdirections are balanced. The clear evolutionary and developmental trend indicates that PM research has matured in recent years. The implications of this study involving PM research will provide reasonable and effective support for researchers, funders, policymakers, and clinicians.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: pressfoto; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Primary Care Doctor Characteristics That Determine the Use of Teleconsultations in the Catalan Public Health System: Retrospective Descriptive...


    Background: eConsulta is a tele-consultation service involving doctors and patients, and is part of Catalonia's public health information technology system. The service has been in operation since the end of 2015 as an adjunct to face-to-face consultations. A key factor in understanding the barriers and facilitators to the acceptance of the tool is understanding the sociodemographic characteristics of general practitioners who determine its use. Objective: This study aimed to analyze the sociodemographic factors that affect the likelihood of doctors using eConsulta. Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional analysis of administrative data was used to perform a multivariate logistic regression analysis on the use of eConsulta in relation to sociodemographic variables. Results: The model shows that the doctors who use eConsulta are 45-54 years of age, score higher than the 80th percentile on the quality of care index, have a high degree of accessibility, are involved in teaching, and work on a health team in a high socioeconomic urban setting. Conclusions: The results suggest that certain sociodemographic characteristics associated with general practitioners determine whether they use eConsulta. These results must be taken into account if its deployment is to be encouraged in the context of a public health system.

  • Source: The Authors/ Placeit; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Longitudinal Risk Prediction of Chronic Kidney Disease in Diabetic Patients Using a Temporal-Enhanced Gradient Boosting Machine: Retrospective Cohort Study


    Background: Artificial intelligence–enabled electronic health record (EHR) analysis can revolutionize medical practice from the diagnosis and prediction of complex diseases to making recommendations in patient care, especially for chronic conditions such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is one of the most frequent complications in patients with diabetes and is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Objective: The longitudinal prediction of health outcomes requires effective representation of temporal data in the EHR. In this study, we proposed a novel temporal-enhanced gradient boosting machine (GBM) model that dynamically updates and ensembles learners based on new events in patient timelines to improve the prediction accuracy of CKD among patients with diabetes. Methods: Using a broad spectrum of deidentified EHR data on a retrospective cohort of 14,039 adult patients with type 2 diabetes and GBM as the base learner, we validated our proposed Landmark-Boosting model against three state-of-the-art temporal models for rolling predictions of 1-year CKD risk. Results: The proposed model uniformly outperformed other models, achieving an area under receiver operating curve of 0.83 (95% CI 0.76-0.85), 0.78 (95% CI 0.75-0.82), and 0.82 (95% CI 0.78-0.86) in predicting CKD risk with automatic accumulation of new data in later years (years 2, 3, and 4 since diabetes mellitus onset, respectively). The Landmark-Boosting model also maintained the best calibration across moderate- and high-risk groups and over time. The experimental results demonstrated that the proposed temporal model can not only accurately predict 1-year CKD risk but also improve performance over time with additionally accumulated data, which is essential for clinical use to improve renal management of patients with diabetes. Conclusions: Incorporation of temporal information in EHR data can significantly improve predictive model performance and will particularly benefit patients who follow-up with their physicians as recommended.

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  • Status of AI-enabled Clinical Decision Support Systems Clinical Implementations in China: Cross-sectional Survey

    Date Submitted: Feb 12, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Feb 11, 2020 - Apr 7, 2020

    Background: AI-enabled Clinical Decision Support Systems (AI+CDSSs) were heralded to contribute greatly to the advancement of healthcare services. At present, there is an increased availability of mon...

    Background: AI-enabled Clinical Decision Support Systems (AI+CDSSs) were heralded to contribute greatly to the advancement of healthcare services. At present, there is an increased availability of monetary funds and technical expertise invested in projects and proposals targeting the building and implementation of such systems. Therefore, in this context of large funds and technical devotion, understanding the actual system implementation status in clinical practice is imperative. Objective: To understand: 1) the current clinical implementations of AI+CDSSs in Chinese hospitals and 2) concerns regarding AI+CDSSs current and future implementations. Methods: A survey supported by the China Digital Medicine journal was performed. We employed stratified cluster sampling and investigated tertiary hospitals from 6 provinces and province-level cities. Descriptive analysis, two-sided Fisher exact test, and Mann-Whitney U-test were utilized for analysis. Results: Responses were collected from 160 respondents. The analyzable response rate was 86.96%. Thirty-eight of the surveyed hospitals (23.75%) had implemented AI+CDSSs. There were statistical differences on grade, scales, and medical volume between the two groups of hospitals (implemented vs. not-implemented AI+CDSSs, p<0.05). On the 5-point Likert scale, 81.58% (31/38) of respondents rated their overall satisfaction with the systems as 3 to 4. The three most-common concerns were system functions improvement and integration into the clinical process, data quality and data sharing mechanism improvement, and methodological bias. Conclusions: While AI+CDSSs were not yet wide-spread in Chinese clinical settings, clinical professionals recognize the potential benefits and challenges regarding in-hospital AI+CDSSs.

  • The Economic Burden of Medical Treatment of Children with Asthma in China: Real-World Evidence from the Chinese Medical Insurance Database Network

    Date Submitted: Jan 11, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Jan 11, 2020 - Mar 7, 2020

    Background: The incidence of asthma has been increasing worldwide, leading to an increase in its global burden. But there are few studies on the economic burden of children with asthma in China. Objec...

    Background: The incidence of asthma has been increasing worldwide, leading to an increase in its global burden. But there are few studies on the economic burden of children with asthma in China. Objective: To investigate the economic burden of medical treatment of children with asthma in China. Methods: The China Medical Insurance Research Association (CHIRA) database was searched for patients with asthma from 0 to 14 years old who were diagnosed based on the criteria of “J45” and “J46” coded in ICD-10. A cross-sectional study with cost analysis was conducted. Results: The annual per capita direct medical cost related to all causes of medical visits was RMB$ 2,889 (US$411), and of that, RMB $525 (US$75) was related to asthma. The percentages of medical cost covered by insurance for all causes and asthma in China were 67% and 58%, respectively. The cost of medication accounted for the highest percentage of direct medical costs. The cost of asthma medication accounted for the highest percentage of all medication costs, followed by the cost of antibiotics. The rate of using antibiotics during asthma attack was 50.3%. In each subgroup, the highest rates of using antibiotics were central region of China (100.0%), children aged 3 years and under (63.6%), and fourth-tier and fifth-tier cities (77.1%). Patients were tested by pulmonary function test (12.2%), and allergen test (5.8%) during treatment. Outpatient clinics(98.58% vs 1.42%, P <.01), advanced hospitals (62.08% vs 37.92%, P <.01), and general hospitals (72.27% vs 27.73%, P <.01) were more often visited than the inpatient clinics, mid-level and primary as well as the specialized clinics, respectively. Conclusions: The economic burden of childhood asthma in China is relatively high, but the national medical insurance reduces their economic burden to a large extent. Based on our findings, there remains opportunities to strengthen the hierarchical medical system, and the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) program and Chinese guidelines still need to be further popularized in order to achieve complete control of asthma, thereby reducing hospitalization and emergency visits, shortening hospitalization time, and ultimately reducing the economic burden of children with asthma.