Characterizing Rational Transplant Program Response to Outcome-Based Regulation

Organ transplantation is an increasingly common therapy for many types of end-stage organ failure, including lungs, hearts, kidneys and livers. The past twenty years have seen increased scrutiny of post-transplant outcomes in the United States, in order to ensure the efficient utilization of the scarce organ supply. Under regulations by the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network (OPTN) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the United States has seen a rise in risk-averse patient selection among transplant programs, resulting in decreased transplantation volume for some programs. Despite this observed decrease, the response of transplant programs to OPTN/CMS regulations remains poorly understood. In this work, we consider the perspective of a transplant program which seeks to simultaneously maximize transplant volume and control the risk of OPTN/CMS penalization. Using a chance-constrained mixed-integer programming model, we demonstrate that under certain conditions, it may be rational for a transplant program to curtail its transplant volume in order to avoid penalization under OPTN/CMS regulations. This finding, which confirms empirical results observed in the clinical literature, suggests that such regulations may be inherently unsuitable for use in incentivizing improved program performance. We also highlight other structural shortcomings of OPTN/CMS regulations which have not been observed previously in the literature.



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