Patient journey and costs through a brain health clinic compared with a memory clinic: a costing study.
Cunningham LA., Landeiro F., Leal J.
BACKGROUND: Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are the leading cause of death in England, with prevalence estimated to rise with an ageing population. 2021 cost estimates were £25 billion, rising to an estimated £47 billion in 2050. Brain health clinics (BHC) offer patients with memory concerns access to higher quality memory assessment and imaging than memory clinics, which are the usual care. BHCs aim to offer patients a more accurate and timely diagnosis, resulting in more specific treatment options. BHCs also offer patients the opportunity to take part in research. We aimed to compare the cost of a patient journey through a BHC and a memory clinic as part of an evaluation of the BHC model. METHODS: For this costing study, we consulted staff from one BHC and one memory clinic in the south of England in March 2023, to identify the patient journey and estimate clinical and research resources, time, and costs. We estimated personnel costs using time-per-task estimations multiplied by staff salary and verified with full-time-equivalent estimations for clinical and research tasks overall. BHC costs included both the BHC appointment and a follow-up appointment of reduced duration at the memory clinic. Memory clinic costs included a memory clinic appointment of normal duration. We estimated costs for both clinical (memory clinics and BHC) and research (BHC) tasks (not shown here). FINDINGS: BHC costs were 3·5 times more expensive (£1428) than memory clinic costs (£414). Approximately 150 patients are seen in BHCs yearly (total cost £214 200) compared with 600 patients seen in memory clinics yearly (total cost £248 400). BHC patients re-entering the memory clinic pathway required shorter appointments, thus offering cost savings of £230 per appointment in the memory clinic. INTERPRETATION: BHC costs were higher due to a lower throughput of patients and higher cost of high-quality imaging and assessment compared with memory clinics. However, these costs might prove to provide value for money when considering the gains in quality of life for patients and carers. Future work is planned to gather further outcome data to understand the added value of BHCs. Limitations include only assessing costs for one BHC and one memory clinic; further cost estimates are preferrable. FUNDING: None.