Background: Our objective was to assess the cost-effectiveness of novel rapid diagnostic tests: rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDT), digital immunoassays (DIA), rapid nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), and other treatment algorithms for influenza in high-risk patients presenting to hospital with influenza-like illness (ILI).
Methods: We developed a decision-analytic model to assess the cost-effectiveness of diagnostic test strategies (RIDT, DIA, NAAT, clinical judgement, batch polymerase chain reaction) preceding treatment; no diagnostic testing and treating everyone; and not treating anyone. We modeled high-risk 65-year old patients from a health payer perspective and accrued outcomes over a patient's lifetime. We reported health outcomes, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), healthcare costs, and net health benefit (NHB) to measure cost-effectiveness per cohort of 100,000 patients.
Results: Treating everyone with no prior testing was the most cost-effective strategy, at a cost-effectiveness threshold of $50,000/QALY, in over 85% of simulations. This strategy yielded the highest NHB of 15.0344 QALYs, but inappropriately treats all patients without influenza. Of the novel rapid diagnostics, NAAT resulted in the highest NHB (15.0277 QALYs), and the least number of deaths (1,571 per 100,000). Sensitivity analyses determined that results were most impacted by the pretest probability of ILI being influenza, diagnostic test sensitivity, and treatment effectiveness.
Conclusions: Based on our model, treating high-risk patients presenting to hospital with influenza-like illness, without performing a novel rapid diagnostic test, resulted in the highest NHB and was most cost-effective. However, consideration of whether treatment is appropriate in the absence of diagnostic confirmation should be taken into account for decision-making by clinicians and policymakers.