Cost effectiveness of tele-health follow-up in Rheumatoid Arthritis based on a non-inferiority randomized controlled trial

A. De Thurah, C. Skovsgaard, T. Maribo, N. H. Hjollund, M. Kruse

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalResearchpeer-review


Background: The clinical effectiveness of a patient-reported outcome (PRO) based telehealth intervention offered to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with low disease activity or remission has previously been reported1. The TeRA study showed that PRO-based telehealth follow-up in RA achieved similar disease control as conventional outpatient follow-up among patients with low disease activity or remission. The degree of disease control did not differ between telehealth follow-up offered by rheumatologists or rheumatology nurses.

Objectives: To compare the cost-effectiveness of PRO–based telehealth follow-up to patients with RA performed by rheumatologists or rheumatology nurses with conventional outpatient follow-up.

Methods: A total of 294 patients were randomized (1:1:1) to either PRO-based telehealth follow-up carried out by a nurse (PRO-TN) or a rheumatologist (PRO-TR), or conventional outpatient follow-up by physicians. Quality of life (EQ-5D) was measured at baseline and at follow-up after one year. The primary outcome was a change in the Disease Activity Score, C-reactive Protetin in 28 joints (DAS-28, CRP).

The focus in the health economic evaluation was on the relation between costs and EQ-5D in the period between one year prior to and one year after the intervention. All costs were measured at the individual level and consisted of: intervention costs, health and social care costs, and productivity costs. All cost data were retrieved from Danish population-based registers. Incremental cost-effectiveness rates (ICERs) were calculated on the basis of a comparison of the development in costs and effects in the two intervention groups (separately and combined) with the control group. Bootstrap with 10,000 replications were used to access significance.

Results: The difference in health and social care costs during the intervention period compared to the year before were €1,072, - €50 and €519 for the control group, the PRO-TR group and the PRO-TN respectively. Hence, the change in health and social care costs was lower for both intervention groups. The PRO-TR group had a small decrease and it was significantly lower than for the control group (p=0.0027). The difference between health and social care costs in the PRO-TN group compared to the control group was only borderline significant (p=0.067). No statistically significant differences were found in QALY’s between the three groups, all three groups experienced minor, non-significant, declines in QALY over the intervention period. ICER’s were not statistically significant but below known threshold values for the PRO-RN group (ICER=€17,121).

Conclusion: It is difficult to obtain statistically significant results for cost-effectiveness in small samples. However, the results point towards a possible cost-saving impact of PRO interventions in patients with low disease activity or remission. The study was unable to conclude if PRO-TR or PRO-TN were most cost-effective. Other relevant considerations, like patient satisfaction or organisational issues, should determine the way of organizing RA disease management in these patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberOP0156-HPR
JournalAnnals of the rheumatic diseases
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)98-99
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
EventEULAR 2020 - E-Congress
Duration: 3. Jun 20206. Jun 2020


ConferenceEULAR 2020


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