To perform a cost-utility analysis of diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening strategies from the perspective of the Brazilian Public Healthcare System.
A model-based economic evaluation was performed to estimate the incremental costs per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained between three DR screening strategies: (1) the opportunistic ophthalmology referral-based (usual practice), (2) the systematic ophthalmology referral-based, and (3) the systematic teleophthalmology-based. The target population included individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) aged 40 years, without retinopathy, followed over a 40-year time horizon. A Markov model was developed with five health states and a 1-year cycle. Model parameters were based on literature and country databases. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to assess model parameters’ uncertainty. WHO willingness-to-pay (WHO-WTP) thresholds were used as reference (i.e. one and three times the Brazilian per capita Gross Domestic Product of R$32747 in 2018).
Compared to usual practice, the systematic teleophthalmology-based screening was associated with an incremental cost of R$21445/QALY gained ($9792/QALY gained). The systematic ophthalmology referral-based screening was more expensive (incremental costs = R$4) and less effective (incremental QALY = −0.012) compared to the systematic teleophthalmology-based screening. The probability of systematic teleophthalmology-based screening being cost-effective compared to usual practice was 0.46 and 0.67 at the minimum and the maximum WHO-WTP thresholds, respectively.
Systematic teleophthalmology-based DR screening for the Brazilian population with T2D would be considered very cost effective compared to the opportunistic ophthalmology referral-based screening according to the WHO-WTP threshold. However, there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty around the results.