Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine and standard ophthalmoscopy for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) management. Methods: Models were developed to represent ROP examination and treatment using telemedicine and standard ophthalmoscopy. Cost-utility analysis was performed using decision analysis, evidence-based outcome data from published literature, and present value modeling. Visual outcome data were converted to patient preference-based time trade-off utility values based on published literature. Costs of disease management were determined based on 2006 Medicare reimbursements. Costs per quality-adjusted life year gained by telemedicine and ophthalmoscopy for ROP management were compared. One-way sensitivity analysis was performed on the following variables: discount rate (0%-7%), incidence of treatment-requiring ROP (1%-20%), sensitivity and specificity of ophthalmoscopic diagnosis (75%-100%), percentage of readable telemedicine images (75%-100%), and sensitivity and specificity of telemedicine diagnosis (75%-100%). Results: For infants with birth weight less than 1500 g using a 3% discount rate for costs and outcomes, the costs per quality-adjusted life year gained were $3193 with telemedicine and $5617 with standard ophthalmoscopy. Sensitivity analysis resulted in ranges of costs per quality-adjusted life year from $1235 to $18 898 for telemedicine and from $2171 to $27 215 for ophthalmoscopy. Conclusions: Telemedicine is more cost-effective than standard ophthalmoscopy for ROP management. Both strategies are highly cost-effective compared with other health care interventions.
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