Outcomes after a Digital Behavior Change Intervention to Improve Trauma Triage: An Analysis of Medicare Claims

Deepika Mohan, Chung Chou Chang, Baruch Fischhoff, Matthew R. Rosengart, Derek C. Angus, Donald M. Yealy, Amber E. Barnato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Under-triage in trauma remains prevalent, in part because of decisions made by physicians at non-trauma centers. We developed two digital behavior change interventions to recalibrate physician heuristics (pattern recognition), and randomized 688 emergency medicine physicians to use the interventions or to a control. In this observational follow-up, we evaluated whether exposure to the interventions changed physician performance in practice. Methods: We obtained 2016 – 2018 Medicare claims for severely injured patients, linked the names of trial participants to National Provider Identifiers (NPIs), and identified claims filed by trial participants for injured patients presenting to non-trauma centers in the year before and after their trial. The primary outcome measure was the triage status of severely injured patients. Results: We linked 670 (97%) participants to NPIs, identified claims filed for severely injured patients by 520 (76%) participants, and claims filed at non-trauma centers by 228 (33%). Most participants were white (64%), male (67%), and had more than three years of experience (91%). Patients had a median Injury Severity Score of 16 (IQR 16 – 17), and primarily sustained neuro-trauma. After adjustment, patients treated by physicians randomized to the interventions experienced less under-triage in the year after the trial than before (41% versus 58% [-17%], P = 0.015); patients treated by physicians randomized to the control experienced no difference in under-triage (49% versus 56% [-7%], P = 0.35). The difference-in-the-difference was non-significant (10%, P = 0.18). Conclusions: It was feasible to track trial participants’ performance in national claims. Sample size limitations constrained causal inference about the effect of the interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-539
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • digital behavior change interventions
  • guidelines
  • physician performance
  • trauma triage


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