Health information technology interventions and engagement in HIV care and achievement of viral suppression in publicly funded settings in the US: A cost-effectiveness analysis

PLoS Med. 2021 Apr 7;18(4):e1003389. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003389. Online ahead of print.


Background: The US National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) emphasizes the use of technology to facilitate coordination of comprehensive care for people with HIV. We examined cost-effectiveness from the health system perspective of 6 health information technology (HIT) interventions implemented during 2008 to 2012 in a Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Program demonstration project.

Methods/findings: HIT interventions were implemented at 6 sites: Bronx, New York; Durham, North Carolina; Long Beach, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York (2 sites); and Paterson, New Jersey. These interventions included: (1) use of HIV surveillance data to identify out-of-care individuals; (2) extension of access to electronic health records (EHRs) to support service providers; (3) use of electronic laboratory ordering and prescribing; and (4) development of a patient portal. We employed standard microcosting techniques to estimate costs (in 2018 US dollars) associated with intervention implementation. Data from a sample of electronic patient records from each demonstration site were analyzed to compare prescription of antiretroviral therapy (ART), CD4 cell counts, and suppression of viral load, before and after implementation of interventions. Markov models were used to estimate additional healthcare costs and quality-adjusted life-years saved as a result of each intervention. Overall, demonstration site interventions cost $3,913,313 (range = $287,682 to $998,201) among 3,110 individuals (range = 258 to 1,181) over 3 years. Changes in the proportion of patients prescribed ART ranged from a decrease from 87.0% to 72.7% at Site 4 to an increase from 74.6% to 94.2% at Site 6; changes in the proportion of patients with 0 to 200 CD4 cells/mm3 ranged from a decrease from 20.2% to 11.0% in Site 6 to an increase from 16.7% to 30.2% in Site 2; and changes in the proportion of patients with undetectable viral load ranged from a decrease from 84.6% to 46.0% in Site 1 to an increase from 67.0% to 69.9% in Site 5. Four of the 6 interventions-including use of HIV surveillance data to identify out-of-care individuals, use of electronic laboratory ordering and prescribing, and development of a patient portal-were not only cost-effective but also cost saving ($6.87 to $14.91 saved per dollar invested). In contrast, the 2 interventions that extended access to EHRs to support service providers were not effective and, therefore, not cost-effective. Most interventions remained either cost-saving or not cost-effective under all sensitivity analysis scenarios. The intervention that used HIV surveillance data to identify out-of-care individuals was no longer cost-saving when the effect of HIV on an individual's health status was reduced and when the natural progression of HIV was increased. The results of this study are limited in that we did not have contemporaneous controls for each intervention; thus, we are only able to assess sites against themselves at baseline and not against standard of care during the same time period.

Conclusions: These results provide additional support for the use of HIT as a tool to enhance rapid and effective treatment of HIV to achieve sustained viral suppression. HIT has the potential to increase utilization of services, improve health outcomes, and reduce subsequent transmission of HIV.