Economic Evaluation of Treatments for Pediatric Bilateral Severe to Profound Sensorineural Hearing Loss: An Australian Perspective

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Abstract

Objectives:

In Australia, surgical treatment options for children with bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss exist in a continuum ranging from unilateral cochlear implantation (CI), sequential bilateral CI through to simultaneous bilateral CI, depending on the condition. When treatment options are mutually exclusive, the mean costs and benefits of each treatment group are summed together to obtain the total mean costs and benefits. This enables an incremental analysis of treatment options in the context of the treated populations.

Objectives:

The objective was to evaluate the cost-utility of current Australian CI treatment practices in children using domestic costs and consequences when compared with bilateral hearing aids (HAs).

Research Design:

Economic evaluation including a Markov model based on secondary sources.

Setting:

The base case modeled a government health payer perspective over a child's lifetime. Primary and secondary school education costs were also assessed.

Intervention:

Bilateral HAs compared with CI, including unilateral, sequential bilateral, or simultaneous bilateral CI weighted according to treatment.

Main Outcome Measures:

Incremental costs per quality adjusted life year.

Results:

Approximately 42% of children in Australia with unilateral CI did not transition to sequential bilateral nor undergo simultaneous bilateral implantation. This differs from previous economic evaluations that assumed 100% of children transitioned to sequential bilateral CI treatment or were treated with simultaneous bilateral CI.

Results:

The incremental cost utility of unilateral cochlear implantation compared with HAs was AUD 21,947/QALY. The weighted average incremental cost utility of the combined cochlear implantation treatment groups was AUD 31,238/QALY when compared with HAs.

Conclusion:

Previous economic evaluations of cochlear implantation assumed 100% of unilaterally treated patients would transition to sequential bilateral or be treated with simultaneous bilateral implantation. This approach does not take into account the total treated population, where a proportion of patients are treated with unilateral CI.

Conclusion:

CI was cost effective when compared with HAs, and included children treated with unilateral, sequential bilateral, and simultaneous bilateral CI.

Conclusion:

The model was sensitive to the number of assessment and habilitation visits. Alternative health service models with cost efficiencies are needed to reduce after care costs.

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