Objectives: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of an automated telephone intervention for colorectal cancer screening from a managed care perspective, using data from a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.
Methods: Intervention patients received calls for fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) screening. We searched patients' electronic medical records for any screening (defined as FOBT, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, or colonoscopy) during follow-up. Intervention costs included project implementation and management, telephone calls, patient identification, and tracking. Screening costs included FOBT (kits, mailing, and processing) and any completed screening tests during follow-up. We estimated the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of the cost per additional screen.
Results: At 6 months, average costs for intervention and control patients were $37 (25% screened) and $34 (19% screened), respectively. The ICER at 6 months was $42 per additional screen, less than half what other studies have reported. Cost-effectiveness probability was 0.49, 0.84, and 0.99 for willingness-to-pay thresholds of $40, $100, and $200, respectively. Similar results were seen at 9 months. A greater increase in FOBT testing was seen for patients aged >70 years (45/100 intervention, 33/100 control) compared with younger patients (25/100 intervention, 21/100 control). The intervention was dominant for patients aged >70 years and was $73 per additional screen for younger patients. It increased screening rates by about 6% and costs by $3 per patient.
Conclusions: At willingness to pay of $100 or more per additional screening test, an automated telephone reminder intervention can be an optimal use of resources.