A high economic burden stems from seasonal influenza as a well-known but serious public health problem. Rapid diagnostic tests have not yet been integrated into routine use in German primary care, even though they are likely to reduce overall costs in cases of suspected infection. This study aims to demonstrate that the use of point-of-care testing (POCT) produces lower costs of illness compared to the costs incurred by relying on clinical judgment alone. With the help of a decision tree model, two different diagnostic approaches for influenza-like illness (ILI) in primary care were compared: (1) clinical judgment with no technical support and (2) POCT. The costs of illness, as well as their differences, vary widely among the three age groups considered (elderly people, adults, and children). For the pathway of using clinical judgment alone, the costs of illness sum up to 155.99 € for elderly people compared to 76.31 € for adults and 74.15 € for children. With POCT, the costs of illness for the elderly amount to 115,09 €, which is 26% lower than the costs without diagnostic support. The costs for adults and children are 74.42 € and 75.66 €, respectively, which means 2.5% lower costs of illness for adults and 2% higher costs for children. The results demonstrate that the use of POCT to support detecting influenza in ILI patients may reduce the overall cost of illness. The provided data can help governments make informed decisions about potential cost savings by integrating POCT into the reimbursement scheme.
© 2023. The Author(s).