Cost-effectiveness and impact of five different point of care strategies to preserve last line treatment for gonorrhoea

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has developed to every class of antibiotic used for the treatment of gonorrhoea – and in recent years several multi-drug resistant strains of gonorrhoea have been reported in the UK and elsewhere. Once the prevalence of resistance to a first-line treatment reaches 5%, an alternative drug is selected as first-line treatment. In the UK, as with many other countries, ceftriaxone is the current first-line treatment for gonorrhoea. There are few alternative treatments available should ceftriaxone resistance become widespread and therefore steps are being taken to preserve the effectiveness of ceftriaxone by avoiding its use for infections that could be treated using other antibiotics.

Aquarius was commissioned by the Applied Diagnostic Research and Evaluation Unit (ADREU) at St. Georges London to compare the cost and effectiveness of five different strategies to test for antibiotic susceptibility in NG infections. We developed a decision tree model to assess how point-of-care (POC) testing could be used to diagnose gonorrhoea and at the same time test for antibody susceptibility, allowing the use of previously abandoned antibiotics for the majority of patients, thereby sparing ceftriaxone use.

The results of the model showed that all five strategies cost more than the current strategy of not testing for AMR. The paper concludes that AMR POC testing may enable improved antibiotic stewardship but would require investment into the health system.

The article was published in October in Eurosurveillance and is available free online [link].

Harding-Esch EM, Huntington SE, Harvey MJ, Weston G, Broad CE, Adams EJ, et al. Antimicrobial resistance point-of-care testing for gonorrhoea treatment regimens: cost-effectiveness and impact on ceftriaxone use of five hypothetical strategies compared with standard care in England sexual health clinics. Eurosurveillance [Internet]. 2020;25(43). Available from: https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.43.1900402

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). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09285-1

Modelling the choice of high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) assay in the English cervical screening programme

Aquarius developed a decision tree model to compare the use of the Aptima mRNA HR-HPV assay to a DNA HR-HPV assay in the HPV primary screening algorithm in England. Robust results from the model demonstrate that using the mRNA HR-HPV assay is cost saving and avoids unnecessary HPV recall tests, cytology tests and colposcopies compared to using a DNA HR-HPV assay.

In England, women are invited for cervical cancer screening starting at age 25 and are recalled at regular intervals until age 64. In the HPV primary screening algorithm, cervical samples are tested first for HR-HPV. Positive HPV samples are then tested using liquid based cytology to identify abnormal cells.

Aquarius developed a cost consequence analysis decision tree taking the perspective of NHS England and modelling the HPV primary screening algorithm for one simulated cohort of 2,247,439 women aged 25-64 from baseline screen through recall visits. The model endpoint was discharge to routine recall, loss-to-follow up, or referral to colposcopy. A micro-costing approach was used to estimate costs for screening in England, using published data. Head-to-head comparison of mRNA to DNA tests at baseline and with follow-up was not available for the English population. Therefore, data from the HORIZON study in Denmark with similar positivity to that in England was used.

The model indicated that using an mRNA versus DNA assay in the HPV primary screening algorithm in England can save an estimated £15.4 million and require 28,009 fewer unnecessary colposcopies, 90,605 few HR-HPV tests and 253,477 fewer cytology tests.  Uncertainty and scenario analyses demonstrate cost and resource savings will almost certainly be achieved using the mRNA assay.

PublicationWeston G, Dombrowski C, Harvey MJ, et al Use of the Aptima mRNA high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) assay compared to a DNA HR-HPV assay in the English cervical screening programme: a decision tree model based economic evaluation BMJ Open2020; 10:e031303. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031303

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.

Publication

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. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-020-5062-5

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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmi.2018.10.019.

Three simple tests could save the NHS nearly £6.9 billion

This year marks the 70th birthday of the NHS – a time to celebrate its achievements and the dedicated staff who keep its wheels turning. Yet, there is increasing concern about the future of the NHS, and particularly its funding. In this article, jointly commissioned by the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) and Innovate UK, we showcase three tried and tested in vitro diagnostics, which, if more widely adopted, could save the NHS an estimated £6.9 billion over the next five years.

 

Read Article

 

Test n Treat – rapid STI testing and treatment in colleges: study protocol

Sexually active young people attending London further education (FE) colleges have high rates of chlamydia, but screening rates are low. We describe the study protocol for “Test and Treat” (TnT), an NIHR-funded research study. This is a cluster randomised feasibility trial of frequent, rapid, on-site chlamydia testing using the Cepheid GeneXpert system and same-day treatment in six FE colleges. As part of the study we also conducted qualitative and economic assessments to assess the feasibility of conducting a future large-scale trial to investigate if TnT reduces chlamydia rates. The methods for recruitment, participant data collection, sample collection and testing are described, for baseline and follow-up in the control and intervention groups. The statistical analysis plan for TnT has been published separately.

 

PublicationKerry-Barnard S, Fleming C, Reid F, et al. ‘Test n Treat (TnT)’- Rapid testing and same-day, on-site treatment to reduce rates of chlamydia in sexually active further education college students: study protocol for a cluster randomised feasibility trial. Trials. 2018 Jun 5;19(1):311. doi: 10.1186/s13063-018-2674-8.

To request a copy of the published article, please email caroline.dombrowski@aquariusph.com.

Estimating the true costs of splitting HIV antiretroviral drugs

Problem: A regional UK commissioning decision in 2010 mandated that when the component drugs of Combivir—a combination therapy for HIV—come off patent, doctors must prescribe the individual drugs instead. This was driven by a perception that the generic component drugs are cheaper in the immediate-term and so more efficient overall. As our pharmaceutical client’s HIV combination drug was soon to come off patent, they wanted to help commissioners understand the full healthcare costs of such a policy, to inform future decisions.

Approach: We worked with our client and clinicians in Nottingham University Hospital’s HIV clinic who had patient-level care data before and after the commissioning change. We planned the analysis and identified which costs would be used and which data were required.

Impact: Our work contributes to the evidence-base of the costs of prescribing patients a single dose therapy over multiple doses. It has changed people’s perceptions of the costs of treating long-term conditions with combination drugs, and helped commissioners to make policy decisions about mandating use of particular drugs whilst taking a holistic view of healthcare.

 

Testimonial

“Aquarius provided a professional yet personal level of support with our project. We found the statistical support invaluable, and felt that they went the extra mile to ensure the project went smoothly and on time.”

  • Dr Ruth Taylor, Consultant in Genitourinary Medicine, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

 

Related publications

 publication_iconTaylor R, Carlin E, Sadique Z, Ahmed I, Adams EJ. The financial and service implications of splitting fixed-dose antiretroviral drugs – a case study. Accepted Mar 2014, Int J STD AIDS

 

Understanding Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis patient care delivery and costs

Problem: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic condition, often with poor prognosis. Although there are NICE guidelines for managing IPF patients, care has varied across England; it has depended on how a clinic’s services are set up and what local resources are available. Our clients wanted to support local specialist centres as they document how their clinics managed IPF patients, how local pathways varied from the NICE benchmark care, and estimate affordability of providing care to patients.

Approach: We generated a gold-standard benchmark pathway for IPF patients based on the NICE guidelines and published literature using our pathway mapping tool, Dots. With our client we designed and conducted structured interviews with clinicians and service managers to explore how their IPF patients are managed and map out local pathways and resource use. Finally, we estimated the costs of care and compared it to our benchmark national pathway using the Dots.

Impact: All of the clinics were given their results so they could understand how their IPF pathways compared to the benchmark and to other clinics, both clinically and in cost-wise. It is anticipated that results could inform the development of a national tariff, as the estimated costs of providing care was over 40% more than currently reimbursed.

 

Related publications


presentation_iconHill C, Nasr R, Fisher MI, et. al. 
Estimated cost and payment by results (PBR) tariff reimbursement for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis services across 14 specialist providers in England. British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting, London UK. 5th December 2014 MRC-2731

Increased efficiency and improved treatment for stable HIV patients in England

Problem: There was no guidance in England on how frequently stable HIV patients should attend clinics for routine visits, how frequently they should receive their HIV drugs and whether or not it would be cost efficient for patients to collect their drugs from the hospital pharmacy (which incurs VAT) or receive them through a home delivery (with associated delivery cost).

Approach: We built a simple spreadsheet tool in Microsoft Excel to estimate which strategy was the most cost-efficient. Local data from St George’s hospital were obtained and analysed, and supplemented with nationally published data as inputs in the model. Results suggested that the most cost efficient way of delivering care was to see stable patients for routine visits every six months in clinic, and give them their drugs through home delivery every three months; this would also save the most drug wastage for example if patients needed to switch to a new drug regimen. Results suggested that this could save roughly £2000 per patient annually, and roughly £8 million if it were implemented across England to the 4000 HIV patients in 2012.

Impact: Results were given to the London HIV commissioners, published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the tool is available to healthcare professionals so that they can put in their local data to help them make better decisions about healthcare provision.

 

Testimonial

“It has been a pleasure to work with Dr Elisabeth Adams on our costing project for HIV home delivery of drugs. I have also worked with her on research related to the POPI study of chlamydia screening.

She has a very professional and thorough approach to her work, and is good at delivering to timelines. I can recommend her as a partner for future work.”

  • Dr Phillip Hay, Reader and Honorary Consultant, Sexual Health and HIV Medicine, St. George’s Hospital, London

 

Related publications

publication_iconAdams EJ, Ogden D, Ehrlich A, Hay P. Treatment for stable HIV patients in England: can we save costs and improve patient care? Journal of Health Services Research & Policy. Published online 29 Oct 2013, doi:10.1177/1355819613508176

Please contact us to request a version of the tool.