The costs of preventing the spread of respiratory infection in family physician offices: a threshold analysis Hogg, William; Gray, David; Huston, Patricia; Zhang, Wei
Background: Influenza poses concerns about epidemic respiratory infection. Interventions designed to prevent the spread of respiratory infection within family physician (FP) offices could potentially have a significant positive influence on the health of Canadians. The main purpose of this paper is to estimate the explicit costs of such an intervention. Methods A cost analysis of a respiratory infection control was conducted. The costs were estimated from the perspective of provincial government. In addition, a threshold analysis was conducted to estimate a threshold value of the intervention's effectiveness that could generate potential savings in terms of averted health-care costs by the intervention that exceed the explicit costs. The informational requirements for these implicit costs savings are high, however. Some of these elements, such as the cost of hospitalization in the event of contacting influenza, and the number of patients passing through the physicians' office, were readily available. Other pertinent points of information, such as the proportion of infected people who require hospitalization, could be imported from the existing literature. We take an indirect approach to calculate a threshold value for the most uncertain piece of information, namely the reduction in the probability of the infection spreading as a direct result of the intervention, at which the intervention becomes worthwhile. Results The 5-week intervention costs amounted to a total of $52,810.71, or $131,094.73 prorated according to the length of the flu season, or $512,729.30 prorated for the entire calendar year. The variable costs that were incurred for this 5-week project amounted to approximately $923.16 per participating medical practice. The (fixed) training costs per practice were equivalent to $73.27 for the 5-week intervention, or $28.14 for 13-week flu season, or $7.05 for an entire one-year period. Conclusion Based on our conservative estimates for the direct cost savings, there are indications that the outreach facilitation intervention program would be cost effective if it can achieve a reduction in the probability of infection on the order of 0.83 (0.77, 1.05) percentage points. A facilitation intervention initiative tailored to the environment and needs of the family medical practice and walk-in clinics is of promise for improving respiratory infection control in the physicians' offices.
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