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The economic cost of implementing antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 screening in high-risk transmission settings: evidence from Germany

Alfonso Valenzuela Hurtado (), Hoa Thi Nguyen, Viktoria Schenkel, Jonas Wachinger, Joachim Seybold, Claudia M. Denkinger and Manuela Allegri
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Alfonso Valenzuela Hurtado: Heidelberg University
Hoa Thi Nguyen: Heidelberg University
Viktoria Schenkel: Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health; Medical Directorate
Jonas Wachinger: Heidelberg University
Joachim Seybold: Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health; Medical Directorate
Claudia M. Denkinger: Heidelberg University
Manuela Allegri: Heidelberg University

Health Economics Review, 2022, vol. 12, issue 1, 1-10

Abstract: Abstract Background Antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDT) have been implemented in hospitals and nursing homes to screen for infectious individuals without symptoms suggestive of SARS-CoV-2 infections and to prevent entry into these high-risk settings. Despite their benefits for screening, the cost of large-scale implementation is largely understudied. Our study presents evidence on their implementation costs in high-risk settings. This study aimed to estimate the economic costs of implementing Ag-RDT-based screening for SARS-CoV-2 in two tertiary care hospitals (University Hospital Heidelberg - UKHD, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) and one nursing home in Germany. Methods We adopted a health system perspective and followed the three sequential steps to costing: identification of resources, measurement of resource consumption, and valuation of costs. Data on resource consumption were collected between October 2020 and April 2021 through various techniques and data sources. The cost estimation considered all costs along the screening algorithm including PCR confirmation tests for positive cases. We estimated the costs for the two implementation modalities observed: staff dedicated exclusively to screening and staff not dedicated exclusively to screening. Furthermore, cost estimations were performed under both observed capacity use and hypothetical capacity use assumptions (60, 80 and 100%). Results Our study indicates that the average cost per Ag-RDT is highly dependent on the capacity use and implementation mode. Staff time and test kits are the two main cost drivers of implementing the large-scale screening programs for SARS-CoV-2 using Ag-RDTs. For hospitals, the average cost per test in UKHD was €30.12 (capacity observed); €14.56 (non-dedicated mode); €19.47, €16.37, €14.53 at 60, 80, 100% capacity respectively (dedicated mode); and at Charité €13.10 (non-dedicated mode). For the nursing home the estimated average cost per test was €15.03 (non-dedicated mode). Conclusions The information on the estimated costs by mode of implementation and capacity use may support the planning of Ag-RDT-based covid-19 screening programs suitable for each institution. Further research is needed to cost this screening strategy for COVID-19 in other high-risk, high-income settings to reach generalizability.

Keywords: Antigen-based rapid diagnostic test; SARS-CoV-2; Screening; Implementation costs; Germany (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:spr:hecrev:v:12:y:2022:i:1:d:10.1186_s13561-022-00361-3

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DOI: 10.1186/s13561-022-00361-3

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