Cost-effectiveness of a rapid point-of-care test for diagnosing patients with suspected bloodstream infection in Ireland

Speed is of the essence for sepsis management and faster diagnosis of specific pathogens may help ensure that patients receive the most appropriate treatments as soon as possible. In addition, reducing the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics is an essential part of antibiotic stewardship to prevent the emergence of antibiotic resistance. This work explored the potential use of a novel diagnostic test to detect Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacterial or fungal infections rapidly to aid in the diagnosis of sepsis in severely ill, hospitalised adult patients.  

A rapid point-of-care (PoC) test as an adjunct to blood culture to aid the diagnosis of sepsis patients with bloodstream infections may decrease the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics and reduce rates of inappropriate antimicrobial therapy (IAAT) use. Through a decision tree model, taking the perspective of the Irish healthcare provider, the cost-effectiveness of such an intervention was evaluated against the current standard of care (SoC) in hospitalized adults in Ireland. The base-case scenario showed that using a rapid PoC test was cost-saving and lifesaving, with €8188 saved per death averted. The results were sensitive to the length of hospital stay for patients with true-positive and true-negative results and to the length of stay (LOS) in the intensive care unit. The threshold analysis showed that even at lower sensitivities, the rapid PoC test could be cost-effective due to the substantial impact of starting earlier targeted and appropriate treatment in patients with bloodstream infection (BSI) and sepsis. Clinical studies are ongoing to determine the clinical impact in practice.

The results of this work are published in Informatics in Medicine Unlocked and the full text can be accessed here.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 967968. Novus Diagnostics (SepTec) funded Aquarius Population Health to conduct the study.

Vankelegom M, Burke D, Mohammed AMF, et al. Cost-effectiveness of a rapid point-of-care test for diagnosing patients with suspected bloodstream infection in Ireland. Informatics in Medicine Unlocked [Internet]. 2022 Jan 1;32:101056. Available from:

© Aquarius Population Health 2022. For commercial use or distribution, please contact

Identifying the common barriers to optimal COPD care in Japan, Canada, England, and Germany through Evidenced Care Pathways

COPD was the third leading cause of mortality worldwide in 2019 (1), responsible for 3.23 million deaths (2). Improved understanding of the common barriers to care delivery could inform international approaches to improving care standards and patient outcomes.

Evidence Care Pathways (ECPs) were created to bring to life the story of how COPD care is currently delivered in Japan, Canada, England and Germany. Published epidemiological, clinical, and economic data was used to populate the ECPs. Thematic content analysis was performed on the clinician interviews (twenty-four respiratory healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care) to inform and validate the ECPs.

The results of this work published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease identified three key themes relating to barriers to optimal COPD management across the countries: journey to diagnosis, treatment and management, and the impact of COVID-19. Presentation to healthcare with advanced COPD, low consideration of COPD by patients and healthcare professionals, and sub-optimal acute and chronic disease management were common across all countries. COVID-19 has negatively impacted disease management across the pathway – but has also opened opportunities for virtual consultations.

COPD is a significant public health issue that needs urgent prioritisation. The common barriers to optimal COPD care identified across the four studied countries highlight the continued need for strategies to optimise COPD care, particularly as the burden of COPD continues to grow.

The Evidenced Care Pathways for the four countries can be downloaded here. Please download this document and open it in a PDF reader such as Adobe for full functionality.

This study was funded and commissioned by AstraZeneca.

Meiwald A, Gara-Adams R, Rowlandson A, et al. Qualitative Validation of COPD Evidenced Care Pathways in Japan, Canada, England, and Germany: Common Barriers to Optimal COPD Care. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2022;17:1507-1521


1. WHO. The top 10 causes of death. Accessed October 22, 2021.

2. WHO. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fact sheet. Published 2021. Accessed August 18, 2021.

© Aquarius Population Health 2021. For commercial use or distribution, please contact

Care Pathway Mapping for Dravet Syndrome (DS) Patients in England

Dravet syndrome (DS) is a rare, early onset, lifelong, epileptic encephalopathy characterised by frequent and severe convulsive seizures. Finding effective treatments is imperative to reducing seizures and improving patient outcomes: DS is highly burdensome for both the patient and their family as well as the healthcare system.

It is important to understand how care is currently delivered to children and adults to improve care to meet the needs of DS patients. Aquarius Population Health presented the results of our pilot study at this year’s ILAE British Branch Virtual Annual Scientific Conference. We describe how care for people with DS is delivered across England and determine the utilisation of healthcare resources for the treatment of patients with DS, and the effects of seizure burden and age group.

Gara-Adams R, Mowlem F, Thomas RH, et al. Care Pathway Mapping for Dravet Syndrome (DS) Patients in England – interim results from a pilot study. Presented at: ILAE British Branch Virtual Annual Scientific Conference, September 23 – 24, 2021; Virtual

Analysing the COPD care pathway in Japan, Canada, England, and Germany: a global view

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a preventable, progressive respiratory disease that causes airflow blockage and breathing problems. COPD caused 3.23 million deaths in 2019 (1), affecting approximately 384 million people globally (2); and is associated with significant resource burden with global costs estimated to be US$2.1 trillion in 2010, rising to US$4.8 trillion by 2030 (3).

Despite the availability of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) recommendations for COPD management, there remains uncertainty around how care is currently delivered within individual countries and what barriers exist to optimal COPD care delivery.

Aquarius Population Health collaborated with AstraZeneca to present our research at a poster session at this year’s European Respiratory Society International Congress. Based on clinician interviews and local data reviews, our research advances our understanding of COPD care pathways in Japan, Canada, England, and Germany and identifies cross-cutting barriers to optimal COPD care. Opportunities for policy change were highlighted – to improve disease awareness, care management and patient outcomes while reducing resource use and costs.

Meiwald A, Gara-Adams R, Ma Y, et al. Analysing the COPD care pathway in Japan, Canada, England and Germany: a global view. Presented at: European Respiratory Society International Congress 2021, September 5 – 8, 2021; Virtual

1.  WHO. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fact sheet. 2021

2. Adeloye D, Chua S, Lee C, et al. Global and regional estimates of COPD prevalence: Systematic review and meta–analysis. J Glob Health. 2015 ;5(2):020415.

3.  Bloom DE, Cafiero ET, Jané-Llopis E, et al. The Global Economic Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases. Geneva; 2011

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Examining the acceptability of offering STI screening in higher educational settings

Uptake of screening for STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, is often inadequate in young people despite provision of open-access sexual health services. Offering STI tests outside medical settings is currently being explored as a way to increase uptake in this group.

In 2017, St George’s University of London ran the ‘Test n Treat’ feasibility trial where free, confidential on-site testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea was offered to students at six higher-education colleges in South London. We have previously reported on the main results of the trial and the cost estimates of providing such a service .

As part of the trial, the research team wanted to understand the acceptability of this type of service among students as well as the barriers and facilitators to its use. They interviewed a small sample of students, some of whom used the service and some of whom did not, as well teachers and the research team. The results of this qualitative study, which Aquarius Population Health gave advisory support to, were published in August 2020.

The paper reports that students who used the service had a very positive opinion of it. There were a number of barriers to using the service identified, including embarrassment about STI testing and the perceived view that individuals would be viewed negatively by their peers if they had an STI test. On the flip side, peers also acted as facilitators to uptake, for example, if a group of friends encouraged each other to get tested. A lack of understanding of STIs was another major barrier, with many students lacking understanding about the long-term consequences of STIs or having the misconception that only people with symptoms should get tested.  Where a £5 honorarium was given to students using the service, this acted as a legitimate incentive for testing, mitigating the (perceived) social stigma of testing.

The paper concludes that if a similar service were provided in future, uptake could be improved if education about sexual health was offered alongside testing, if small cash incentives were given and if peer influencers were engaged to promote the service.

Fleming, C., Drennan, V.M., Kerry-Barnard, S. et al. Understanding the acceptability, barriers and facilitators for chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening in technical colleges: qualitative process evaluation of the “Test n Treat” trial. BMC Public Health 20, 1212 (2020).

Cost analysis of near patient chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening and treatment in further education/technical colleges

Aquarius collaborated with St George’s University of London on an NIHR-funded study, ‘Test n Treat’ (TnT). In this cluster randomised feasibility trial, rapid chlamydia (CT) and gonorrhoea (NG) testing and same day on-site chlamydia treatment in six technical colleges in South London was delivered. 

Using process data from the trial (the main results of which were published last year) and NHS cost data, the overall cost of providing the TnT service was calculated, as well as the cost per CT/NG screen and the cost per CT/NG infection diagnosed. These took into account the fixed daily costs, such as staff time and equipment use, and the per screen costs, i.e. the consumables used to collect and test samples, and were dependent on uptake of screening. Since the average cost per screen was higher if uptake was low as per what was observed in the trial, and lower if uptake was high, costs for a range of update scenarios were assessed. If daily capacity for screening was achieved (calculated as 49 screens/day), the cost per screen was £47 (including the £10 incentive given to students to encourage participation). This increased to £91, if uptake was equivalent to the average uptake observed on the trial (19 screens/day). The paper concluded that delivering this type of service is more expensive per person than CT and NG screening in sexual health clinics but could be more comparable in areas of high CT/NG prevalence.


Kerry-Barnard S, Huntington, S, Fleming C, et al. Near patient chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening and treatment in further education/technical colleges: a cost analysis of the ‘Test n Treat’ feasibility trial. BMC Health Services Research.

Cluster-randomised feasibility trial of a chlamydia test and treat (TnT) service in further education colleges

Aquarius were involved in a recent cluster-randomised feasibility trial looking at whether provision of a same day test and treatment (TnT) service for chlamydia in further education colleges could be used to improve uptake of chlamydia testing in sexually active 16-24 year olds. The trial found that despite a high prevalence of chlamydia among sexually active students at the colleges, uptake of the free confidential TnT service was low. At the three colleges, 13% of students were tested when the service was first offered and 10% when it was offered again three months later. Interviews with students revealed that low uptake was associated with not feeling at risk of a sexually transmitted infection, perceptions of stigma, and lack of knowledge about sexually transmitted infections, while all students interviewed were positive about the TnT service itself.

PublicationOakeshott P, Kerry-Barnard S, Fleming C, et al. “Test n Treat” (TnT): a cluster randomised feasibility trial of on-site rapid Chlamydia trachomatis tests and treatment in ethnically diverse, sexually active teenagers attending technical colleges. Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

Modelling cost-effectiveness of multipathogen POC tests for sexually transmitted infections

In this BMJ Open article, we report on health economic modelling results that compare three possible strategies for point-of-care (POC) sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing with the current practice of microscopy and lab-based testing.  Results showed that testing for STIs with either a dual, triple or quadruple POC test provided more patient benefit than current practice but may cost more. The quadruple POC test was the least expensive POC strategy relative to standard care – with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £36,585 per quality adjusted life years gained, when taking the clinic’s perspective. When taking the commissioners’ perspective, who pay for the services delivered through tariffs, over £26 million in savings could be achieved using the 4-bug test, mainly because patients were treated appropriately on their first testing visit rather than having to re-attend.


PublicationHuntington SE, Burns RM, Harding-Esch E, et al.  ‘Modelling-based evaluation of the costs, benefits and cost-effectiveness of multipathogen point-of-care tests for sexually transmitted infections in symptomatic genitourinary medicine clinic attendees.’ 

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Enabling more efficient patient management of blood stream infections

The Guardian supplement ‘Acting on AMR’, was published in March 2018, and focused on a number of ways to improve antimicrobial stewardship. This supplement included an article by Momentum Bioscience, which highlighted the importance of using technology to enable earlier rule-out of blood stream infections.

In addition to the benefits to patients, Aquarius conducted an economic analysis for Momentum Bioscience to estimate the impact if the test is used on neonates with suspected sepsis. Our estimates showed that if the test is used on all babies born in England, an estimated £6 million could be saved, with a significant reduction in the antibiotics used and length of stay of babies who were free from infection.

Publication Bennett, H  ‘How do we enable more efficient patient management and antibiotic stewardship?’ MediaPlanet (an independent supplement distributed in The Guardian) March 2018 p5.



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Assessing the impact of point-of-care testing for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus in children admitted to hospital

We assessed the impact and economic benefits of using a point-of-care (POC) assay instead of standard laboratory testing to detect influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children and infants admitted to hospital . This real-world evaluation was conducted in two subsequent ‘flu seasons at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. Results showed that following the introduction of the POC testing, children with influenza were more likely to receive oseltamivir treatment, the antiviral recommended for influenza. Although there was no statistically significant reduction in the average length of hospital admission or in the number of antibiotics prescribed, there was a reduction in laboratory costs and in reimbursement charges for hospital admissions suggesting that use of the POC assay resulted in fewer procedures and interventions performed during admissions.

Publication Vecino-Ortiz AI, Goldenberg SD, Douthwaite ST, et alImpact of a multiplex PCR point-of-care test for influenza A/B and respiratory syncytial virus on an acute pediatric hospital ward. Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease,  Volume 91, Issue 4, August 2018, Pages 331-335. 


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