Cost-effectiveness of shared medical appointments for neuromuscular patients
SourceNeurology, 85, 7, (2015), pp. 619-25
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
OBJECTIVE: To assess whether shared medical appointments (SMAs) for neuromuscular patients represent a way of using clinicians' time efficiently without compromising quality of care for patients. METHODS: Patients with a chronic neuromuscular disease (NMD) (n = 272) were randomly allocated to either an SMA or a regular individual annual appointment and followed up for a period of 6 months. Data on resource utilization and quality of life (EQ-5D) were collected prospectively, using a health care perspective. Incremental costs and changes in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) were computed using a probabilistic decision model. Factors critical to the incremental cost-effectiveness of SMAs were explored in sensitivity analyses. RESULTS: No substantial differences between SMAs and individual visits in terms of costs per QALY were found (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio euro-960.00; 95% confidence interval euro-34,600.00, euro+36,800.00). Sensitivity analyses showed that the cost-effectiveness ratio was particularly sensitive to SMA group size and proportion of patients seeing their treating neurologist. CONCLUSIONS: Cost-effectiveness of SMAs did not show a significant difference vs that of individual appointments based on data from our randomized controlled trial. On the other hand, we were able to show that a minimum of 6 patients per SMA and 75% of patients attending their treating neurologist are specific conditions under which SMAs qualify as a cost-effective alternative. This implies that SMAs may be a means to increase productivity of the physician without compromising quality of care. CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE: This study provides Class III evidence that SMAs are not significantly more cost-effective than individual appointments for patients with NMDs. The study lacks the precision to exclude important differences in cost-effectiveness between SMAs and individual appointments.
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