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Economic evaluation of combined population-based screening for multiple blindness-causing eye diseases in China: a cost-effectiveness analysis

HumanInsight Economic evaluation of combined population-based screening for multiple blindness-causing eye diseases in China: a cost-effectiveness analysis

Lancet Glob Health. 2023 Jan 23:S2214-109X(22)00554-X. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(22)00554-X. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: More than 90% of vision impairment is avoidable. However, in China, a routine screening programme is currently unavailable in primary health care. With the dearth of economic evidence on screening programmes for multiple blindness-causing eye diseases, delivery options, and screening frequencies, we aimed to evaluate the costs and benefits of a population-based screening programme for multiple eye diseases in China.

METHODS: We developed a decision-analytic Markov model for a cohort of individuals aged 50 years and older with a total of 30 1-year cycles. We calculated the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of screening programmes for multiple major blindness-causing eye diseases in China, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and pathological myopia, from a societal perspective (including direct and indirect costs). We analysed rural and urban settings separately by different screening delivery options (non-telemedicine [ie, face-to-face] screening, artificial intelligence [AI] telemedicine screening, and non-AI telemedicine screening) and frequencies. We calculated incremental cost-utility ratios (ICURs) using quality-adjusted life-years and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) in terms of the cost per blindness year avoided. One-way deterministic and simulated probabilistic sensitivity analyses were used to assess the robustness of the main outcomes.

FINDINGS: Compared with no screening, non-telemedicine combined screening of multiple eye diseases satisfied the criterion for a highly cost-effective health intervention, with an ICUR of US$2494 (95% CI 1130 to 2716) and an ICER of $12 487 (8773 to 18 791) in rural settings. In urban areas, the ICUR was $624 (395 to 907), and the ICER was $7251 (4238 to 13 501). Non-AI telemedicine screening could result in fewer costs and greater gains in health benefits (ICUR $2326 [1064 to 2538] and ICER $11 766 [8200 to 18 000] in rural settings; ICUR $581 [368 to 864] and ICER $6920 [3926 to 13 231] in urban settings). AI telemedicine screening dominated no screening in rural settings, and in urban settings the ICUR was $244 (-315 to 1073) and the ICER was $2567 (-4111 to 15 389). Sensitivity analyses showed all results to be robust. By further comparison, annual AI telemedicine screening was the most cost-effective strategy in both rural and urban areas.

INTERPRETATION: Combined screening of multiple eye diseases is cost-effective in both rural and urban China. AI coupled with teleophthalmology presents an opportunity to promote equity in eye health.

FUNDING: National Natural Science Foundation of China.

PMID:36702141 | DOI:10.1016/S2214-109X(22)00554-X

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