Application of a simple point-of-care test to reduce UK healthcare costs and adverse events in outpatient acute respiratory infections

J Med Econ. 2020 Jul;23(7):673-682. doi: 10.1080/13696998.2020.1736872. Epub 2020 Apr 7.


Background: Acute respiratory infection (ARI) accounts for over two-thirds of total antibiotic prescriptions although most are caused by viruses that do not benefit from antibiotics. Most antibiotics are prescribed in the outpatients setting. Antibiotic overuse leads to antibiotic-related adverse events (AEs), inclusive of secondary infections, resistance, and increased costs. Point-of-care tests (POCT) may reduce unnecessary antibiotics. A cost analysis was performed to assess diagnostic POCT options to identify patients with an ARI that may benefit from antibiotics in a United Kingdom (UK) outpatient setting.Methods: Healthcare savings were estimated using a budget impact analysis based on UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) data and direct costs (antibiotics, AEs, POCTs) derived from published literature. Otitis media, sinusitis, pharyngitis and bronchitis were considered the most common ARIs. Antibiotic-related AE costs were calculated using re-consultation costs for anaphylaxis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, allergies/diarrhea/nausea, C. difficile infection (CDI). Potential cost-savings from POCTs was assessed by evaluating NICE guideline-referenced POCTs (CRP, FebriDx, Sarasota, FL) as well as a target product profile (TPP).Results: Fifty-percent (7,718,283) of ARI consultations resulted in antibiotics while guideline-based prescribing suggest appropriate antibiotic prescriptions are warranted 9% (1,444,877) of ARI consultations. Direct antibiotic costs for actual ARI consultations associated with antibiotics was £24,003,866 vs. £4,493,568 for guideline-based, "appropriate" antibiotic prescriptions. Antibiotic-related AEs and re-consultations for actual vs. appropriate prescribing totaled £302,496,486 vs. £63,854,269. ARI prescribing plus AE costs totaled £326,729,943 annually without the use of delayed prescribing practices or POCT while the addition of delayed prescribing plus POCT totaled £60,114,564-£78,148,933 depending on the POCT.Conclusions: Adding POCT to outpatient triage of ARI can reduce unnecessary antibiotics and antibiotic-related AEs, resulting in substantial cost savings. Further, near patient diagnostic testing can benefit health systems and patients by avoiding exposure to unnecessary drugs, side effects and antibiotic resistant pathogens.Key points for decision makersMany patients are unnecessarily treated with antibiotics for respiratory infections.Antibiotic misuse leads to unnecessary adverse events, secondary infections, re-consultations, antimicrobial resistance and increased costs.Point-of-care diagnostic tests used to guide antibiotic prescriptions will avoid unnecessary adverse health effects and expenses.

Keywords: Acute respiratory infection; C-reactive protein (CRP); C53; FebriDx; I15; I19; antibiotic-related adverse events; host response biomarkers; myxovirus resistance protein A (MxA); point-of-care tests (POCT).

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship / methods*
  • Cost Savings*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Outpatients*
  • Point-of-Care Testing / economics*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • United Kingdom


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents