Adding Specialized Clinics for Remote-Dwellers with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Cost-Utility Analysis
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to determine whether opening a new clinic in a remote region would be a cost-effective means of improving care for remote-dwellers with CKD. DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS, & MEASUREMENTS: This study is a cost-utility analysis from a public payer's perspective over a lifetime horizon, using administrative data from a large cohort of adults with stage 3b-4 CKD in Alberta, Canada. The association between the distance from each simulated patient's residence and the practice location of the closest nephrologist and clinical outcomes (quality of care, hospitalization, dialysis, and death) were examined. A Markov 6-month cycle economic decision model was analyzed; estimates of the effect of a new clinic were based on the association between residence location, resource use, and outcomes. Costs are reported in 2009 Canadian dollars. RESULTS: The costs for equipping and operating a clinic for 321 remote-dwelling patients were estimated at $25,000 and $250,000/yr, respectively. The incremental cost-utility ratios (ICURs) ranged from $4000 to $8000/quality-adjusted life-year under most scenarios. However, if reducing distance to nephrologist care does not alter mortality or hospitalization among remote-dwellers, the cost-effectiveness becomes less attractive. All other one-way sensitivity analyses had negligible effects on the ICUR. CONCLUSIONS: Given the low costs of equipping and operating new clinics, and the very attractive ICUR relative to other currently funded interventions, establishing new clinics for remote-dwellers could play an important role in efficiently improving outcomes for patients with CKD. High-quality controlled studies are required to confirm this hypothesis.
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