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Title: Economic issues associated with the operation and evaluation of telemedicine
Author: Mistry, Hema
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 5919
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2011
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Telemedicine offers an alternative referral strategy for fetal cardiology but is currently only used for ‘high-risk’ pregnancies. A case-study of a cost-consequences analysis comparing telemedicine to direct referral to a perinatal cardiologist is initially presented, which highlights that for high risk women for whom telemedicine was considered no cardiac anomalies were missed using either referral method. In the light of a review of the literature on the economics of telemedicine, three of the key methodological issues (of selection bias, of patient costs and using quality-adjusted life years (QALYs)) are explored to demonstrate how the case study analysis could be improved. Pregnant women were selected for referral based on their characteristics and risk factors; thus the cost and effects for the two groups may have been biased. Various methods identified in the literature are applied to the case study to reduce selection bias, but the analysis presented is unable to determine which method is best, given a number of limitations including the small sample size. The analysis is extended to include estimated total patient costs. However, when patient costs are added to the total costs of pregnancy, they did not substantially increase the overall cost. The results presented provide a guideline for future researchers and pregnant women of the likely costs during pregnancy. Given that the majority of missed cardiac anomalies were amongst low risk women, a decision analytical model is developed looking at the lifetime costs and QALYs of introducing telemedicine screening for pregnant women whose unborn babies are at a low risk of congenital heart disease. The analysis shows that offering telemedicine to all low risk women is the dominant strategy. The thesis demonstrates, within the constraints of existing data, that it would be cost-effective to provide telemedicine as part of an antenatal screening programme for all low risk women, and this would help prevent future ‘missed anomalies’.
Supervisor: Buxton, M. J. Sponsor: Research and Development Division of the Department of Health
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economic evaluation ; Antenatal screening ; Pregnancy ; Selection bias