AIMING FOR THE BULL'S EYE: The Cost-Utility of Screening for Hydroxychloroquine Retinopathy

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Abstract

Background:

Throughout medicine, the cost of various treatments has been increasingly studied with the result that certain management guidelines might be reevaluated in their context. Cost-utility is a term referring to the expense of preventing the loss of quality of life, quantified in dollars per quality-adjusted life year. In 2002, the American Academy of Ophthalmology published hydroxychloroquine screening recommendations which were revised in 2011. The purpose of this report is to estimate the cost-utility of these recommendations.

Methods:

A hypothetical care model of screening for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy was formulated. The costs of screening components were calculated using 2016 Medicare fee schedules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Results:

The cost-utility of screening for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy with the 2011 American Academy of Ophthalmology guidelines was found to vary from 33,155 to 344,172 dollars per quality-adjusted life year depending on the type and number of objective screening tests chosen, practice setting, and the duration of hydroxychloroquine use. Screening had a more favorable cost-utility when the more sensitive and specific diagnostics were used, and for patients with an increased risk of toxicity.

Conclusion:

American Academy of Ophthalmology guidelines have a wide-ranging cost-utility. Prudent clinical judgment of risk stratification and tests chosen is necessary to optimize cost-utility without compromising the efficacy of screening.

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