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Cost-savings models for a COPD and diabetes app

Asc Academics built two cost-savings models (one for COPD and one for diabetes) to calculate the (potential) cost savings of implementing an app for patients to increase their adherence to their prescribed medication regimens.

What we did

Project background

Service Apotheken (SA) has developed an app for mobile devices that helps patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes adhere to their prescribed medication regimens. COPD and diabetes both require very specific and complex pharmaceutical treatments, which need quite some time and skill to master. Assisting patients in the correct use of medication and thereby increasing medication adherence improves patient health and slows disease progression. The SA app helps patients with COPD and diabetes by demonstrating the correct use of medication, providing the patient with accurate and relevant information about their health, and connecting the patient with the local pharmacy, which allows the patient to improve their medication adherence and thus possibly lower the rate of exacerbations (COPD) and hypoglycemic attacks (diabetes).

Challenges faced

The potential added value of the SA app was not visible, charted, and quantifiable, and these parameters are required for decision makers to make an informed decision about whether to implement and reimburse the SA app. Preventive measures and/or eHealth solutions are not currently a focus of the Dutch healthcare system, which presents an additional hurdle: It takes greater effort to help decision makers see the value of these innovative tools.

Our solution

Asc Academics built two cost-savings models (one for COPD and one for diabetes) to calculate the (potential) cost savings of implementing the SA app for these patients in the Netherlands. For COPD, the model was based on an eHealth trial among SA patients, and data was sourced from SA registries and expert opinion on the potential benefits of the use of an eHealth app for these patients. For diabetes, the model was based on literature (without a trial) and expert opinion. Both models included multiple aspects of healthcare such as medication use, medical devices, and the costs of exacerbations and hypoglycemic events. The models followed patients over the course of one year; therefore, the model may have underestimated the calculated cost savings because the long-term effects of improved medication use/adherence have not been taken into account.

Our impact

Both models clearly demonstrated cost savings in the Dutch setting, with rates of €56 per COPD patient per year and €295 per diabetes patient per year. These cost savings are primarily related to delayed disease progression, which results in fewer exacerbations and hypoglycemic events and reduced medication use and hospital treatment. In an ideal scenario where all 1.1 million diabetes patients in the Netherlands use the SA app, the potential cost savings would be €324 million per year. A similar scenario for all 584,000 Dutch COPD patients would result in a potential €32.7 million in cost savings per year. These numbers are merely a representation of the financial impact of implementation — looking at the results, imagine the actual beneficial impact of the SA app on the health of all COPD and diabetes patients.

Meet the experts

Hidde Nab, MSc

Hidde Nab, MSc

Hinko  Hofstra, MSc

Hinko Hofstra, MSc

Services used

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