HEDIS® Tip Sheet

Acute Hospital Utilization (AHU)

Line of business: BlueAlliance (Commercial) 

Measure Description

Members 18 years of age and older, the risk-adjusted ratio of observed-to-expected acute inpatient and observation stay discharges during the measurement year.

Icon of a notebook


  • This rate is reported as an observed count of hospital admissions over expected count (O/E Ratio).
    • An O/E Ratio below one indicates there were less acute hospital admissions than expected while an O/E Ratio greater than one indicates more acute hospital admissions occurred than expected.
  • This measure is risk-adjusted and looks at the predicted probability that the member may have an ED visit during the year. 
Icon of a check mark and a document with a person

Best Practices

  • Encourage patients to engage with their PCP to provide annual wellness visits, complete screenings, and coordinate care.
  • Engage with patients diagnosed with chronic conditions to help prevent and minimize exacerbations and complications.
  • Consider extended clinic and telehealth hours and addition of a nurse line.
  • Offer/coordinate support services for patients diagnosed with chronic conditions or who are experiencing exacerbations.
Icon of a document with a red letter X in the bottom right


  • Outliers:
    • Three or more inpatient or observation stays during the measurement year.
  • Nonacute inpatient stays.
  • Observation and inpatient discharges with any of the following:
    • A principal diagnosis of mental health or chemical dependence.
    • A principal diagnosis of live-born infant.
    • A maternity related diagnosis or a maternity related stay.
    • A planned hospital for any of the following:
      • Principal diagnosis of maintenance chemotherapy.
      • Principal diagnosis of rehabilitation.
      • An organ transplant.
      • Potentially planned procedure without a principal acute diagnosis.
    • Inpatient and observation stays with a discharge for death.
  • Members in hospice during the measurement year. 

Coding Disclaimer

The analysis of any medical coding question related to a measure is dependent on the measure’s technical specifications including the factual situations present related to the member, the practice, the professionals, and the medical services provided.


Should you have specific coding or other questions related to the measure, please send your questions to BlueAlliance@bcbsnd.com.


HEDIS® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).