The cost of time: A randomised, controlled trial to assess the economic impact of upfront, point-of-care blood tests in the Emergency Centre

Lara Nicole Goldstein, Mike Wells, Craig Vincent-Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Time and cost constraints abound in the Emergency Centre (EC). These resource-constraints are further magnified in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Almost half of all patients presenting to the EC require laboratory tests. Unfortunately, access to laboratory services in LMIC is commonly inadequate. Point-of-Care (POC)tests may assist to avert this shortcoming. The aims of this study were to evaluate the cost effectiveness of upfront POC blood tests performed prior to doctor assessment compared to the standard EC workflow. Methods: A secondary analysis was performed on data from a prospective, randomised, controlled trial where patients with abdominal/chest symptoms or generalised body pain/weakness followed either the normal EC workflow pathway or one of two enhanced workflow pathways with POC tests (i-STAT with and without a complete blood count (CBC))prior to doctor evaluation. The incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER)was used to perform the cost effectiveness analysis. Results: There were 248 patients enrolled in the study. The use of the two upfront, POC test pathways significantly exceeded the primary outcome measure of a 20% reduction in treatment time. In the i-STAT + CBC group, the 31 min. time-saving translated into cost-saving of US$14.96 per patient (IECR 0.27)whereas the 21 min. time-saving in the i-STAT only group only had an additional net cost of US$3.11 per patient (IECR 0.90). Conclusion: Upfront, POC blood tests can be utilised in the resource-constrained EC to manage patients more efficiently by saving time. This time-saving can, in fact, be more cost effective than traditional EC workflow making it an economically viable option for implementation in LMIC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalAfrican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Economic analysis
  • Emergency department
  • Point-of-care systems
  • Point-of-care testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Gerontology
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Critical Care Nursing

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