A systematic approach to evaluate practice-based process- and outcome data applied to the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration

Margriet I. van der Reis, M. Elshout (Corresponding author), Tos T.J.M. Berendschot, Yvonne de Jong-Hesse, Carroll A.B. Webers, Jan S.A.G. Schouten

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Background: Following the principles of value-based health care, outcomes and processes of daily-practice eye care need to be systematically evaluated. We illustrate an approach that can be used to support data-driven quality improvements. We used patient data regarding the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). Methods: In a cohort study, we reviewed medical records of patients with nAMD confirmed on fluorescein angiography (FA). Patients were treated with intravitreal injections with bevacizumab; ranibizumab; or photodynamic therapy (PDT). Visual acuity (VA), ophthalmic exam results and treatments were recorded. VA was compared between treatments by linear mixed model. Diagnosis was re-evaluated on the original FAs. Outcome analysis was performed by 1) selecting VA as the relevant outcome parameter; 2) Preventing selection by comparing treatments with historical untreated cohort and cohorts from the literature, 3) correcting for confounding due to lesion type, and 4) identifying relevant process variables that affect the outcome. These were severity of disease at presentation, and doctor- and patient dependent process variables. Results: In total, 473 eyes were included. At 12 months, change in VA was 0.54, 0.48, 0.09, and 0.07 LogMAR in the no-treatment, photodynamic therapy (PDT), bevacizumab, and ranibizumab groups, respectively. Lesion type on FA differed between groups. Diagnosis of nAMD could not be confirmed in 104 patients. Patient delay, inaccurate diagnosis and treatment intervals may have impacted outcomes. Conclusions: The effect of PDT was small to absent. Anti-VEGFs were effective and appeared as effective as in RCTs. Correct selection of a comparator cohort and addressing confounding, including confounding by indication and effect modification, are needed to achieve valid results and interpretation. Patient delay, diagnosis accuracy, indication for and application of treatment can potentially be improved to improve treatment outcomes. In a value-based care perspective, systematic evaluation of diagnostic accuracy, treatment indication, protocols, and outcomes of new interventions is needed at an early stage to improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Ophthalmology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2020


  • Age-related macular degeneration; outcome study; visual acuity
  • Anti-VEGF
  • Bevacizumab
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Ranibizumab


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